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:B^ /Bbarie Corclli. 



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The Sorrows of Satjn 





Marie Corelli 





Copyright, 1895, 


J. B. LippiNcoTT Company. 

Electrotyped and Printed by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, U.S.A. 

K^ U^ ' 


Do you know what it is to be poor ? Not poor with the 
arrogant poverty complained of by certain people who have 
five or six thousand a year to live upon, and who yet swear 
they can hardly manage to make both ends meet, but really 
poor, — downright, cruelly, hideously poor, with a poverty 
that is graceless, sordid and miserable? Poverty that com- 
pels you to dress in your one suit of clothes till it is worn 
threadbare, — that denies you clean linen on account of the 
ruinous charges of washerwomen, — that robs you of your own 
self-respect and causes you to slink along the streets vaguely 
abashed, instead of walking erect among your fellow-men 
in independent ease, — this is the sort of poverty I mean. 
This is the grinding curse that keeps down noble aspiration 
under a load of ignoble care ; this is the moral cancer that 
eats into the heart of an otherwise well-intentioned human 
creature and makes him envious and malignant, and inclined 
to the use of dynamite. When he sees the fat idle woman of 
society passing by in her luxurious carriage, lolling back 
lazily, her face mottled with the purple and red signs of super- 
fluous eating, — when he observes the brainless and sensual 
man of fashion smoking and dawdling away the hours in the 
Park as if all the world and its millions of honest hard workers 
were created solely for the casual diversion of the so-called 
* upper' classes, — then the good blood in him turns to gall 
and his suffering spirit rises in fierce rebellion crying out — 
''Why in God's name, should this injustice be? Why 
should a worthless lounger have his pockets full of gold by 

i^ 5 

IS~\ C^ -r^ p^ ^} /i 


mere chance and heritage, while I, toihng wearily from morn 
till midnight, can scarce afford myself a satisfying meal?" 
' • .Why indeed -I . Why should the wicked flourish like a green 
bay-tree ?'♦' I ' Ka^Je ' <!>ften thought about it. Now however 
J .l;)e4i?;ve.I-cpul^ X^lp'to solve the problem out of my own 
personal- 'experience.'- '-But . . . such an experience! Who 
will credit it? Who will believe that anything so strange 
and terrific ever chanced to the lot of a mortal man ? No 
one. Yet it is true ; — truer than much so-called truth. More- 
over I know that many men are living through many such in- 
cidents as have occurred to me, under precisely the same influ- 
ence, conscious perhaps at times that they are in the tangles 
of sin, but too weak of will to break the net in which they 
have become voluntarily imprisoned. Will they be taught, I 
wonder, the lesson I have learned ? In the same bitter school, 
under the same formidable taskmaster? Will they realize as 
I have been forced to do, — aye, to the very fibres of my in- 
tellectual perception, — the vast, individual, active Mind, which 
behind all matter, works unceasingly, though silently, a very 
eternal and positive God? If so, then dark problems will 
become clear to them, and what seems injustice in the world 
will prove pure equity ! But I do not write with any hope 
of either persuading or enlightening my fellow-men. I know 
their obstinacy too well; — I can gauge it by my own. My 
proud belief in myself was, at one time, not to be outdone by 
any human unit on the face of the globe. And I am aware 
that others are in similar case. I merely intend to relate the 
various incidents of my career in due order exactly as they 
happened, — leaving to more confident heads the business of 
propounding and answering the riddles of human existence as 
best they may. 

During a certain bitter winter, long remembered for its 
arctic severity, when a great wave of intense cold spread 
freezing influences not alone over the happy isles of Britain, 
but throughout all Europe, I, Geoffrey Tempest, was alone in 
London and well-nigh starving. Now a starving man seldom 


gets the sympathy he merits, — so few can be persuaded to 
believe in him. Worthy folks who have just fed to repletion 
are the most incredulous, some of them being even moved to 
smile when told of existing hungry people, much as if these 
were occasional jests invented for after-dinner amusement. 
Or, with that irritating vagueness of attention which character- 
izes fashionable folk to such an extent that when asking a 
question they neither wait for the answer nor understand it 
when given, the well-dined groups, hearing of some one starved 
to death will idly murmur ' How dreadful !' and at once turn 
to the discussion of the latest ' fad' for killing time, ere it 
takes to killing them with sheer ennui. The pronounced fact 
of being hungry sounds coarse and common, and is not a topic 
for polite society, which always eats more than sufficient for 
its needs. At the period I am speaking of however, I, who 
have since been one of the most envied of men, knew the cruel 
meaning of the word hunger too well, — the gnawing pain, 
the sick faintness, the deadly stupor, the insatiable animal 
craving for mere food, all of which sensations are frightful 
enough to those who are, unhappily, daily inured to them, 
but which when they afflict one who has been tenderly reared 
and brought up to consider himself a 'gentleman,' — God 
save the mark ! are perhaps still more painful to bear. And 
I felt that I had not deserved to suffer the wretchedness in 
which I found myself. I had worked hard. From the time 
my father died, leaving me to discover that every penny of 
the fortune I imagined he possessed was due to swarming 
creditors, and that nothing of all our house and estate was left 
to me except a jewelled miniature of my mother who had lost 
her own life in giving me birth, — from that time I say, I had 
put my shoulder to the wheel and toiled late and early. I had 
turned my University education to the only use for which it 
or I seemed fitted, — literature. I had sought for employment 
on almost every journal in London, — refused by many, taken 
on trial by some, but getting steady pay from none. Who- 
ever seeks to live by brain and pen alone is, at the beginning 


of such a career, treated as a sort of social pariah. Nobody- 
wants him, — everybody despises him. His efforts are derided, 
his manuscripts are flung back to him unread, and he is less 
cared for than the condemned murderer in gaol. The mur- 
derer is at least fed and clothed, — a worthy clergyman visits 
him, and his gaoler will occasionally condescend to play cards 
with him. But a man gifted with original thoughts and the 
power of expressing them, appears to be regarded by everyone 
in authority as much worse than the worst criminal, and all 
the * jacks-in-ofifice' unite to kick him to death if they can. I 
took both kicks and blows in a sullen silence and lived on, — 
not for the love of life, but simply because I scorned the 
cowardice of self-destruction. I was young enough not to 
part with hope too easily ; — the vague idea I had that my 
turn would come, — that the ever-circling wheel of Fortune 
would perchance lift me up some day as it now crushed me 
down, kept me just wearily capable of continuing existence, — 
though it was merely a continuance and no more. For about 
six months I got some reviewing work on a w^ell-known 
literary journal. Thirty novels a week were sent to me to 
' criticise,' — I made a habit of glancing hastily at about eight 
or ten of them, and writing one column of rattling abuse con- 
cerning these thus casually selected, — the remainder were 
never noticed at all. I found that this mode of action was 
considered ' smart, ' and I managed for a time to please my 
editor who paid me the munificent sum of fifteen shillings for 
my weekly labour. But on one fatal occasion I happened to 
change my tactics and warmly praised a work which my own 
conscience told me was both original and excellent. The 
author of it happened to be an old enemy of the proprietor of 
the journal on which I was employed ; — my eulogistic review 
of the hated individual, unfortunately for me, appeared, with 
the result that private spite outweighed public justice and I 
was immediately dismissed. 

After this I dragged on in a sufficiently miserable way, 
doing ' hack work' for the dailies, and living on promises 


that never became realities, till, as I have said, in the early 
January of the bitter winter alluded to, I found myself literally 
penniless and face to face with starvation, owing a month's 
rent besides for the poor lodging I occupied in a back street 
not far from the British Museum. I had been out all day 
trudging from one newspaper office to another, seeking for 
work and finding none. Every available post was filled. I 
had also tried, unsuccessfully, to dispose of a manuscript of 
my own, — a work of fiction which I knew had some merit, 
but which all the ' readers' in the publishing offices appeared 
to find exceptionally worthless. These 'readers', I learned, 
were most of them novelists themselves, who read other peo- 
ple's productions in their spare moments and passed judgment 
on them. I have always failed to see the justice of this 
arrangement ; to me it seems merely the way to foster me- 
diocrities and suppress originality. Common sense points 
out the fact that the novelist ' reader' who has a place to 
maintain for himself in literature would naturally rather en- 
courage work that is likely to prove ephemeral, than that 
which might possibly take a higher footing than his own. 
Be this as it may, and however good or bad the system, it 
was entirely prejudicial to me and my literary offspring. The 
last publisher I tried was a kindly man who looked at my 
shabby clothes and gaunt face with some commiseration. 

''I'm sorry," said he, "very sorry, but my readers are 
quite unanimous. From what I can learn, it seems to me 
you have been too earnest. And also, rather sarcastic in cer- 
tain strictures against society. My dear fellow, that won't 
do. Never blame society, — it buys books ! Now if you 
could write a smart love-story, slightly risque, — even a little 
more than risque for that matter, that is the sort of thing 
that suits the present age." 

"Pardon me," I interposed somewhat wearily — "but are 
you sure you judge the public taste correctly?" 

He smiled a bland smile of indulgent amusement at what 
he no doubt considered my ignorance in putting such a query. 


" Of course I am sure," — he replied — '* It is my business 
ix) know the public taste as thoroughly as I know my own 
pocket. Understand me, — I don't suggest that you should 
write a book on any positively indecent subject, — that can be 
safely left to the 'New' woman," — and he laughed, — *'but I 
assure you high-class fiction doesn't sell. The critics don't 
like it to begin with. What goes down with them and with 
the public is a bit of sensational realism told in terse news- 
paper English. Literary English, — Addisonian English, — is 
a mistake." 

"And I am also a mistake I think," I said with a forced 
smile. — "At any rate if what you say be true, I must lay 
down the pen and try another trade. I am old-fashioned 
enough to consider Literature as the highest of all professions, 
and I would rather not join in with those who voluntarily de- 
grade it." 

He gave me a quick side-glance of mingled incredulity and 

"Well, well!" he finally observed — "you are a little 
quixotic. That will wear off. Will you come on to my club 
and dine with me?" 

I refused this invitation promptly. I knew the man saw 
and recognised my wretched plight, — and pride — false pride 
if you will — rose up to my rescue. I bade him a hurried 
good-day, and started back to my lodging, carrying my re- 
jected manuscript with me. Arrived there, my landlady met 
me as I was about to ascend the stairs and asked me whether 
I would ' kindly settle accounts' the next day. She spoke 
civilly enough, poor soul, and not without a certain compas- 
sionate hesitation in her manner. Her evident pity for me 
galled my spirit as much as the publisher's offer of a dinner 
had wounded my pride, — and with a perfectly audacious air 
of certainty I at once promised her the money at the time she 
herself appointed, though I had not the least idea where or 
how I should get the required sum. Once past her, and shut 
in my own room, I flung my useless manuscript on the floor 


and myself into a chair, and swore. It refreshed me to 

swear and it seemed natural, — for though temporarily weak- 
ened by lack of food I was not yet so weak as to shed tears, 
— and a fierce formidable oath was to me the same sort of 
physical relief which I imagine a fit of weeping may be to an 
excitable woman. Just as I could not shed tears, so was I 
incapable of apostrophizing God in my despair. To speak 
frankly, I did not believe in any God — the?i. I was to myself 
an all-sufficing mortal, scorning the time-worn superstitions 
of so-called religion. Of course I had been brought up in the 
Christian faith ; but that creed had become worse than useless 
to me since I had intellectually realized the utter inefficiency 
of Christian ministers to deal with difficult life-problems. 
Spiritually I was adrift in chaos, — mentally I was hindered 
both in thought and achievement, — bodily I was reduced to 
want. My case was desperate, — I myself was desperate. It 
was a moment when if ever good and evil angels play a game 
of chance for a man's soul, they were surely throwing the dice 
on the last wager for mine. And yet, with it all, I felt I had 
done my best. I was driven into a corner by my fellow-men 
who grudged me space to live in, but I had fought against 
it. I had worked honestly and patiently ; — all to no purpose. 
I knew of rogues who gained plenty of money; and of 
knaves who were amassing large fortunes. Their prosperity 
appeared to prove that honesty after all was not the best 
policy. What should I do then ? How should I begin the 
Jesuitical business of committing evil that good, personal 
good, might come of it ? So I thought, dully, if such stray 
half-stupefied fancies as I was capable of, deserved the name 
of thought. 

The night was bitter cold. My hands were numbed, and I 
tried to warm them at the oil-lamp my landlady was good 
enough to still allow me the use of, in spite of delayed cash- 
payments. As I did so, I noticed three letters on the table, 
— one in a long blue envelope suggestive of either a summons 
or a returned manuscript, — one bearing the Melbourne post- 


mark, and the third a thick square missive coroneted in red 
and gold at the back. I turned over all three indifferently, 
and selecting the one from Australia, balanced it in my hand 
a moment before opening it. I knew from whom it came, and 
idly wondered what news it brought me. Some months previ- 
ously I had written a detailed account of my increasing debts 
and difficulties to an old college chum, who finding England 
too narrow for his ambition, had gone out to the wider new 
world on a speculative quest of gold mining. He was getting 
on well, so I understood, and had secured a fairly substantial 
position, and I had therefore ventured to ask him point-blank 
for the loan of fifty pounds. Here, no doubt, was his reply, 
and I hesitated before breaking the seal. 

'' Of course it will be a refusal," I said half-aloud, — " How- 
ever kindly a friend may otherwise be, he soon turns crusty if 
asked to lend money. He will express many regrets, accuse 
trade and the general bad times, and hope I will soon ' tide 
over.' I know the sort of thing. Well, — after all, why 
should I expect him to be different to other men? I've no 
claim on him beyond the memory of a few sentimental arm- 
in-arm days at Oxford." 

A sigh escaped me in spite of myself, and a mist blurred 
my sight for the moment. Again I saw the grey towers of 
peaceful Magdalen, and the fair green trees shading the walks 
in and around the dear old University town where we, — I and 
the man whose letter I now held in my hand, strolled about 
together as happy youths, fancying that we were young geniuses 
born to regenerate the world. We were both fond of classics, 
— we were brimful of Homer and the thoughts and maxims of 
all the immortal Greeks and Latins, — and I verily believe in 
those imaginative days we thought we had in us such stuff as 
heroes are made of. But our entrance into the social arena 
soon robbed us of our sublime conceit, — we were common 
working units, no more, — the grind and prose of daily life put 
Homer into the background, and we soon discovered that 
society was more interested in the latest unsavoury scandal 


than in the tragedies of Sophocles or the wisdom of Plato. 
Well ! it was no doubt extremely foolish of us to dream that 
we might help to regenerate a world in which both Plato and 
Christ appear to have failed, — yet the most hardened cynic 
will scarcely deny that it is pleasant to look back to the days 
of his youth if he can think that at least then, if only once in 
his life, he had noble impulses. 

The lamp burned badly, and I had to re-trim it before I 
could settle down to read my friend's letter. Next door some- 
one was playing a violin, and playing it well. Tenderly and 
yet with a certain amount of brio the notes came dancing from 
the bow, and I listened, vaguely pleased. Being faint with 
hunger I was somewhat in a listless state bordering on stupor, 
— and the penetrating sweetness of the music appealing to the 
sensuous and aesthetic part of me, drowned for the moment 
mere animal craving. 

*' There you go !" I murmured, apostrophizing the unseen 
musician, — ''practising away on that friendly fiddle of yours, 
— no doubt for a mere pittance which barely keeps you alive. 
Possibly you are some poor wretch in a cheap orchestra, — 
or you might even be a street-player and be able to live in 
this neighbourhood of the elite starving, — you can have no 
hope whatever of being the ' fashion' and making your bow 
before Royalty, — or if you have that hope it is wildly mis- 
placed. Play on, my friend, play on ! — the sounds you make 
are very agreeable and seem to imply that you are happy. I 
wonder if you are ? — or if, like me, you are going rapidly to 
the devil ! ' ' 

The music grew softer and more plaintive and was now ac- 
companied by the rattle of hailstones against the window- 
panes. A gusty wind whistled under the door and roared 
down the chimney, — a wind cold as the grasp of death and 
searching as a probing knife. I shivered, — and bending close 
over the smoky lamp, prepared to read my Australian news. 
As I opened the envelope, a bill for fifty pounds, payable to 
me at a well-known London banker's, fell out upon the table. 


My heart gave a quick bound of mingled relief and grati- 

''Why Jack, old fellow, I wronged you!" I exclaimed, — 
" your heart is in the right place after all. " 

And profoundly touched by my friend's ready generosity, 
I eagerly perused his letter. It was not very long and had 
evidently been written off in haste. 

" Dear Geoff, 

I'm sorry to hear you are down on 
your luck ; it shows what a crop of fools are still flourishing 
in London, when a man of your capability cannot gain his 
proper place in the world of letters, and be fittingly acknow- 
ledged. I believe it's all a question of wire-pulling, and 
money is the only thing that will pull the wires. Here's the 
fifty you ask for and welcome, — don't hurry about paying it 
back. I am doing you a good turn this year by sending you 
a friend, — a real friend mind you ! — no sham. He brings you 
a letter of introduction from me, and between ourselves, old 
man, you cannot do better than put yourself and your literary 
affairs entirely in his hands. He knows everybody, and is up 
to all the dodges of editorial management and newspaper 
cliques. He is a great philanthropist besides, — and seems 
particularly fond of the society of the clergy. Rather a queer 
taste you will say, but his reason for such preference is, as he 
has explained to me quite frankly, that he is so enormously 
wealthy that he does not quite know what to do with his 
money, and the reverend gentlemen of the church are gener- 
ally ready to show him how to spend some of it. He is 
always glad to know of some quarter where his money and 
influence (he is very influential) may be useful to others. He 
has helped me out of a very serious hobble, and I owe him a 
big debt of gratitude. I've told him all about you, — what a 
smart fellow you are, and what a lot dear old Alma Mater 
thought of you, and he has promised to give you a lift up. 
He can do anything he likes ; very naturally, seeing that the 



whole world of morals, civilization and the rest is subservient 
to the power of money, — and his stock of cash appears to be 
limitless. Use him; he is willing and ready to be used, — 
and write and let me know how you get on. Don't bother 
about the fifty till you feel you have tided over the storm. 

Ever yours 


I laughed as I read the absurd signature, though my eyes 
were dim with something like tears. '"Boffles' was the nick- 
name given to my friend by several of our college companions, 
and neither he nor I knew how it first arose. But no one 
except the dons ever addressed him by his proper name, 
which was John Carrington, — he was simply 'Boffles,' and 
Boffles he remained even now for all those who had been his 
intimates. I refolded and put by his letter and the draft for 
the fifty pounds, and with a passing vague wonder as to 
what manner of man the ' philanthropist' might be who had 
more money than he knew what to do with, I turned to the 
consideration of my other two correspondents, relieved to feel 
that now, whatever happened, I could settle up arrears with 
my landlady the next day as I had promised. Moreover I 
could order some supper, and have a fire lit to cheer my 
chilly room. Before attending to these creature comforts 
however, I opened the long blue envelope that looked so like 
a threat of legal proceedings, and unfolding the paper within, 
stared at it amazedly. What was it all about ? — The written 
characters danced before my eyes, — puzzled and bewildered, 
I found myself reading the thing over and over again with- 
out any clear comprehension of it. Presently a glimmer of 
meaning flashed upon me, startling my senses like an electric 
shock, . . . no — no — ! — impossible ! Fortune never could 
be so mad as this ! — never so wildly capricious and grotesque 
of humour ! It was some senseless hoax that was being prac- 
tised upon me, . . . and yet, ... if it were a joke it was 
a very elaberate and remarkable one ! Weighted with the 


majesty of the law too ! . . . Upon my word and by all the 
fantastical freakish destinies that govern human affairs, the 
news seemed actually positive and genuine ! 


Steadying my thoughts with an effort, I read every word 
of the document over again deliberately, and the stupefaction 
of my wonder increased. Was I going mad, or sickening for 
a fever? Or could this startling, this stupendous piece of 
information be really true? Because, — if indeed it were 
true, . . . good heavens ! — I turned giddy to think of it, 
and it was only by sheer force of will that I kept myself from 
swooning with the agitation of such sudden surprise and 
ecstasy. If it were true — why then the world was mine ! 
— I was king instead of beggar; — I was everything I chose to 
be ! The letter, — the amazing letter, bore the printed name 
of a noted firm of London solicitors, and stated in measured 
and precise terms that a distant relative of my father's, of 
whom I had scarcely heard, except remotely now and then 
during my boyhood, had died suddenly in South America 
leaving me his sole heir. 

" The real and personal estate now amounting to something 
over Five Millions of Pounds Sterlings we should esteem it a 
favour if you could make it convenient to call upon us ajty day 
this week in order that we may go through the necessary for- 
malities together. The larger bulk of the cash is lodged in 
the Bank of England, and a cofisiderable amount is placed 
in French governinent securities. We should prefer going 
into further details with you personally rather than by letter. 
Trustiftg you will call on us without delay, we are, Sir, yours 
obediently ..." 

Five Millions !...!, the starving literary hack, — the 
friendless, hopeless, almost reckless haunter of low newspaper 


dens — I, the possessor of "over Five Millions of Pounds 
sterling" ! I tried to grasp the astounding fact, — for fact it 
evidently was, — but could not. It seemed to me a wild 
delusion, born of the dizzy vagueness which lack of food 
engendered in my brain. I stared round the room ; — the 
mean miserable furniture, — the fireless grate, — the dirty lamp, 
— the low truckle bedstead, — the evidences of penury and 
want on every side ; — and then, — then the overwhelming con- 
trast between the poverty that environed me and the news I 
had just received, struck me as the wildest, most ridiculous 
incongruity I had ever heard of or imagined, — and I gave 
vent to a shout of laughter. 

'' Was there ever such a caprice of mad Fortune !" I cried 
aloud — " Who would have imagined it ! Good God ! I ! I, 
of all men in the world to be suddenly chosen out for this 
luck! By Heaven! — If it is all true I'll make society spin 
round like a top on my hand before I am many months 

And I laughed loudly again ; laughed just as I had pre- 
viously sworn, simply by way of relief to my feelings. Some 
one laughed in answer, — a laugh that seemed to echo mine. 
I checked myself abruptly, somewhat startled, and listened. 
Rain poured outside, and the wind shrieked like a petulant 
shrew, — the violinist next door was practising a brilliant 
roulade up and down his instrument, — but there were no 
other sounds than these. Yet I could have sworn I heard 
a man's deep-chested laughter close behind me where I 

"It must have been my fancy," I murmured, turning the 
flame of the lamp up higher in order to obtain more light in 
the room — "I am nervous I suppose, — no wonder! Poor 
Boffles ! — good old chap!" I continued, remembering my 
friend's draft for fifty pounds, which had seemed such a god- 
send a few minutes since — "What a surprise is in store for 
you ! You shall have your loan back as promptly as you sent 
it, with an extra fifty added by way of interest for your gen- 
b 2* 


erosity. And as for the new Maecenas you are sending to 
help me over my difficulties, — well, he may be a very excel- 
lent old gentleman, but he will find himself quite out of his 
element this time. I want neither assistance nor advice nor 
patronage — I can buy them all ! Titles, honours, possessions, 
— they are all purchasable, — love, friendship, position, — they 
are all for sale in this admirably commercial age and go to 
the highest bidder ! By my soul ! — the wealthy * philan- 
thropist' will find it difficult to match me in power ! He will 
scarcely have more than five millions to waste, I warrant ! 
And now for supper, — I shall have to live on credit till I get 
some ready cash, — and there is no reason why I should not 
leave this wretched hole at once and go to one of the best 
hotels and swagger it !" 

I was about to leave the room on the swift impulse of 
excitement and joy, when a fresh and violent gust of wind 
roared down the chimney, bringing with it a shower of soot 
which fell in a black heap on my rejected manuscript where 
it lay forgotten on the floor as I had despairingly thrown it. 
I hastily picked it up and shook it free from the noisome 
dirt, wondering as I did so, what would be its fate now ? — 
now, when I could afford to publish it myself, and not only 
publish it but advertise it, and not only advertise it but ' push' 
it, in all the crafty and cautious ways known to the inner 
circles of 'booming.' I smiled as I thought of the ven- 
geance I would take on all those who had scorned and slighted 
me and my labour, — how they should cower before me ! — how 
they should fawn at my feet like whipt curs and whine their 
fiilsome adulation ! Every stiff and stubborn neck should 
bend before me ; this I resolved upon ; for though money 
does not always conquer everything, it only fails when it is 
money apart from brains. Brains and money together can 
move the world, — brains can very frequently do this alone 
without money, of which serious and proved fact those who 
have no brains should beware ! 

Full of ambitious thought, I now and then caught wild 


sounds from the violin that was being played next door, — 
notes like sobbing cries of pain, and anon rippling runs like 
a careless woman's laughter, — and all at once I remembered 
I had not yet opened the third letter addressed to me, — 
the one coroneted in scarlet and gold, which had remained 
where it w^as on the table almost unnoticed till now. I 
took it up and turned it over with an odd sense of reluc- 
tance in my fingers, which were slow at the work of tearing 
the thick envelope asunder. Drawing out an equally thick 
small sheet of notepaper also coroneted, I read the following 
lines written in an admirably legible, small and picturesque 

Dear Sir. 

I am the bearer of a letter of introduction 
to you from your former college companion Mr John Car- 
rington, now of Melbourne, who has been good enough to 
thus give me the means of making the acquaintance of one, 
who, I understand, is more than exceptionally endowed with 
the gift of literary genius. I shall call upon you this evening 
between eight and nine o'clock, trusting to find you at home 
and disengaged. I enclose my card, and present address, 
and beg to remain. 

Very faithfully yours 



The card mentioned dropped on the table as I finished 
reading the note. It bore a small exquisitely engraved coronet 
and the words 

Prince Lucio Rimanez, 
while, scribbled lightly in pencil underneath was the address 
* Grand Hotel.' 

I read the brief letter through again, — it was simple enough, 
— expressed with clearness and civility. There was nothing 
remarkable about it, — nothing whatever; yet it seemed to 
me surcharged with meaning. Why, I could not imagine. 


A curious fascination kept my eyes fastened on the char- 
acteristic bold handwriting, and made me fancy I should 
like the man who penned it. How the wind roared ! — and 
how that violin next door wailed like the restless spirit of 
some forgotten musician in torment ! My brain swam and 
my heart ached heavily, — the drip drip of the rain outside 
sounded like the stealthy footfall of some secret spy upon my 
movements. I grew irritable and nervous, — a foreboding of 
evil somehow darkened the bright consciousness of my sudden 
good fortune. Then an impulse of shame possessed me, — 
shame that this foreign prince, if such he were, with limitless 
wealth at his back, should be coming to visit me, — vie, now 
a millionaire, — in my present wretched lodging. Already, 
before I had touched my riches, I was tainted by the miser- 
able vulgarity of seeking to pretend I had never been really 
poor, but only embarrassed by a little temporary difficulty ! 
If I had had a sixpence about me, (which I had not) I should 
have sent a telegram to my approaching visitor to put him 

''But in any case," I said aloud, addressing myself to the 
empty room and the storm-echoes — '' I will not meet him to- 
night. I'll go out and leave no message, — and if he comes 
he will think I have not yet had his letter. I can make an 
appointment to see him when I am better lodged, and dressed 
more in keeping with my present position, — in the meantime, 
nothing is easier than to keep out of this would-be benefactor's 
way. ' ' 

As I spoke, the flickering lamp gave a dismal crackle and 
went out, leaving me in pitch darkness. With an exclamation 
more strong than reverent, I groped about the room for matches, 
or failing them, for my hat and coat, — and I was still engaged 
in a fruitless and annoying search, when I caught a sound of 
galloping horses' hoofs coming to an abrupt stop in the street 
below. Surrounded by black gloom, I paused and listened. 
There was a slight commotion in the basement, — I heard my 
landlady's accents attuned to nervous civility, mingling with 


the mellow tones of a deep masculine voice, — then steps, firm 
and even, ascended the stairs to my landing. 

'' The devil is in it !" I muttered vexedly — " Just like my 
wayward luck ! — here comes the very man I intended to 


The door opened, — and from the dense obscurity en- 
shrouding me I could just perceive a tall shadowy figure 
standing on the threshold. I remember well the curious 
impression the mere outline of this scarcely discerned form 
made upon me even then, suggesting at the first glance such 
a stately majesty of height and bearing as at once riveted 
my attention, — so much so indeed that I scarcely heard my 
landlady's introductory words *' A gentleman to see you, sir," 
— words that were quickly interrupted by a murmur of dismay 
at finding the room in total darkness. "Well to be sure! 
The lamp must have gone out!" she exclaimed, — then ad- 
dressing the personage she had ushered thus far, she added — 
**I'm afraid Mr. Tempest isn't in after all, sir, though I 
certainly saw him about half-an-hour ago. If you don't 
mind waiting here a minute I'll fetch a light and see if he 
has left any message on his table. ' ' 

She hurried away, and though I knew that of course I 
ought to speak, a singular and quite inexplicable perversity of 
humour kept me silent and unwilling to declare my presence. 
Meanwhile the tall stranger advanced a pace or two, and a 
rich voice with a ring of ironical amusement in it called me 
by my name — 

" Geoffrey Tempest, are you there?" 

Why could I not answer? The strangest and most un- 
natural obstinacy stiffened my tongue, — and, concealed in 
the gloom of my forlorn literary den I still held my peace. 
The majestic figure drew nearer, till in height and breadth it 


seemed to suddenly overshadow me, and once again the voice 
called — 

"Geoffrey Tempest, are you there?" 

For very shame's sake I could hold out no longer, — and 
with a determined effort I broke the extraordinary dumb spell 
that had held me like a coward in silent hiding, and came 
forward boldly to confront my visitor. 

'' Yes I am here," I said — "And being here I am ashamed 
to give you such a welcome as this. You are Prince Rimanez 
of course ; — I have just read your note, which prepared me 
for your visit, but I was hoping that my landlady, finding the 
room in darkness, would conclude I was out, and show you 
downstairs again. You see I am perfectly frank !" 

"You are indeed!" returned the stranger, his deep tones 
still vibrating with the silvery clang of veiled satire — "So 
frank that I cannot fail to understand you. Briefly, and 
without courtesy, you resent my visit this evening and wish I 
had not come ! ' ' 

This open declaration of my mood sounded so brusque that 
I made haste to deny it though I knew it to be true. Truth, 
even in trifles, always seems unpleasant ! 

"Pray do not think me so churlish," — I said — "The fact 
is I only opened your letter a few minutes ago, and before I 
could make any arrangements to receive you, the lamp went 
out, with the awkward result that I am forced to greet you in 
this unsociable darkness, which is almost too dense to shake 
hands in." 

" Shall we try?" my visitor enquired, with a sudden soften- 
ing of accent that gave his words a singular charm — " Here is 
my hand, — if yours has any friendly instinct in it, the twain 
will meet,— quite blindly and without guidance !" 

I at once extended my hand, and it was instantly clasped 
in a warm and somewhat masterful manner. At that instant 
a light flashed on the scene, — my landlady entered, bearing 
what she called ' her best lamp' alit, and set it on the table. 
I believe she uttered some exclamation of surprise at seeing 


me, — she may have said anything or nothing, — I did not hear 
or heed, so entirely was 1 amazed and fascinated by the appear- 
ance of the man whose long slender hand still held mine. I 
am myself an average good height, but he was fully half a 
head taller than I, if not more than that, — and as I looked 
straightly at him, I thought I had never seen so much beauty 
and intellectuality combined in the outward personality of any 
human being. The finely shaped head denoted both power 
and wisdom, and was nobly poised on such shoulders as might 
have befitted a Hercules, — the countenance was a pure oval, 
and singularly pale, this complexion intensifying the almost 
fiery brilliancy of the full dark eyes, which had in them a 
curious and wonderfully attractive look of mingled mirth and 
misery. The mouth was perhaps the most telling feature in 
this remarkable face, — set in the perfect curve of beauty, it 
was yet firm, determined, and not too small, thus escaping 
effeminacy, — and I noted that in repose it expressed bitterness, 
disdain and even cruelty. But with the light of a smile upon 
it, it signified, or seemed to signify, something more subtle 
than any passion to which we can give a name, and already 
with the rapidity of a lightning flash, I caught myself wonder- 
ing what that mystic undeclared something might be. At a 
glance I comprehended these primary details of my new ac- 
quaintance's eminently prepossessing appearance, and when 
my hand dropped from his close grasp I felt as if 1 had known 
him all my life ! And now face to face with him, in the bright 
lamp-light I remembered my actual surroundings, — the bare 
cold room, the lack of fire, the black soot that sprinkled the 
nearly carpetless floor, — my own shabby clothes and deplora- 
ble aspect, as compared with this regal-looking individual who 
carried the visible evidence of wealth upon him in the superb 
Russian sables that lined and bordered his long overcoat 
which he now partially unfastened and threw open with a 
carelessly imperial air, the while he regarded me, smiling. 

"I know I have come at an awkward moment," he said — 
" I always do ! It is my peculiar misfortune. Well-bred 


people never intrude where they are not wanted, — and in this 
particular I'm afraid my manners leave much to be desired. 
Try to forgive me if you can, for the sake of this," — and he 
held out a letter addressed to me in my friend Carrington's 
familiar handwriting. ''And permit me to sit down while you 
read my credentials." 

He took a chair and seated himself. I observed his hand- 
some face and easy attitude with renewed admiration. 

"No credentials are necessary," I said w^ith all the cor- 
diality I now really felt — "I have already had a letter from 
Carrington in which he speaks of you in the highest and most 

grateful terms. But the fact is w^ell ! — really. Prince, you 

must excuse me if I seem confused or astonished ... I had 
expected to see quite an old man . . ." 

And I broke off, somewhat embarrassed by the keen glance 
of the brilliant eyes that met mine so fixedly. 

*'No one is old, my dear sir, nowadays!" he declared 
lightly — " even the grandmothers and grandfathers are friskier 
at fifty than they were at fifteen. One does not talk of age 
at all now in polite society, — it is ill-bred, even coarse. 
Indecent things are unmentionable — age has become an 
indecent thing. It is therefore avoided in conversation. You 
expected to see an old man you say ? Well, you are not 
disappointed — I aj7i old. In fact you have no idea how very 
old I am!" 

I laughed at this piece of absurdity. 

'' Why you are younger than I," — I said — " or if not, you 
look it." 

*' Ah, my looks belie me !" he returned gaily — '' I am like 
several of the most noted fashionable beauties, — much riper 
than I seem. But come, read the introductory missive I have 
brought you, — I shall not be satisfied till you do." 

Thus requested, and wishing to prove myself as courteous 
as I had hitherto been brusque, I at once opened my friend's 
note and read as follows, — 


Dear Geoffrey. 

The bearer of this, Prince Rimanez, is 
a very distinguished scholar and gentleman, allied by descent 
to one of the oldest families in Europe, or for that matter, in 
the world. You, as a student and lover of ancient history, 
will be interested to know that his ancestors were originally 
princes of Chaldea, who afterwards settled in Tyre, — from 
thence they went to Etruria and there continued through 
many centuries, the last scion of the house being the very 
gifted and genial personage who, as my good friend, I have 
the pleasure of commending to your kindest regard. Certain 
troublous and overpowering circumstances have forced him 
into exile from his native province, and deprived him of a 
great part of his possessions, so that he is to a considerable 
extent a wanderer on the face of the earth, and has travelled 
far and seen much, and has a wide experience of men and 
things. He is a poet and musician of great skill, and though 
he occupies himself with the arts solely for his own amuse- 
ment, I think you will find his practical knowledge of literary 
matters eminently useful to you in your difficult career. I 
must not forget to add that in all matters scientific he is an 
absolute master. Wishing you both a cordial friendship, I 
am, dear Geoffrey, 

Yours sincerely 

John Carrington. 

The signature of ' Bofifles' had evidently been deemed out of 
place this time and somehow I was foolishly vexed at its 
omission. There seemed to be something formal and stiff 
in the letter, almost as if it had been written to dictation, and 
under pressure. What gave me this idea I know not. I 
glanced furtively at my silent companion, — he caught my stray 
look and returned it with a curiously grave fixity. Fearing 
lest my momentary vague distrust of him had been reflected 
in my eyes I made haste to speak — 

*' This letter, prince, adds to my shame and regret that I 
B 3 


should have greeted you in so churlish a manner this evening. 
No apology can condone my rudeness, — but you cannot 
imagine how mortified I felt, and still feel, tqgbe compelled 
to receive you in this miserable den, — it js not at all 
the sort of place in which I should have liked to welcome 
you ..." And I broke off with a renewed sense of irri- 
tation, remembering how actually rich I now was, and that 
in spite of this I was obliged to seem poor. Meanwhile the 
prince waived aside my remarks with a light gesture of his hand. 

"Why be mortified?" he demanded. " Rather be proud 
that you can dispense with the vulgar appurtenances of luxury. 
Genius thrives in a garret and dies in a palace, — is not that 
the generally accepted theory?" 

"Rather a worn-out and mistaken one I consider," — I 
replied — " Genius might like to try the effect of a palace for 
once, — it usually dies of starvation." 

" True ! — but in thus dying, think how many fools it after- 
wards fattens ! There is an all-wise Providence in this, my 
dear sir ! Schubert perished of want, — but see what large 
profits all the music-publishers have made since out of his 
compositions ! It is a most beautiful dispensation of nature, 
— that honest folk should be sacrificed in order to provide for 
the sustenance of knaves !" 

He laughed, and I looked at him in a little surprise. His 
remark touched so near my own opinions that I wondered 
whether he were in jest or earnest. 

" You speak sarcastically of course?" I said — "You do not 
really believe what you say?" 

" Oh do I not !" he returned, with a flash of his fine eyes 
that was almost lightning-like in its intensity — " If I could 
not believe the teaching of my own experience, what would 
be left to me ? I always realize the ' nee(/s inusf of things — 
how does the old maxim go — * needs must when the devil 
drives.' There is really no possible contradiction to offer to 
the accuracy of that statement. The devil drives the world, 
whip in hand, — and oddly enough (considering that some 


belated folk still fancy there is a God somewhere) succeeds 
in managing his team with extraordinary ease !" His brow 
clouded, and the bitter lines about his mouth deepened and 
hardened, — anon he laughed again lightly and continued — 
''But let us not moralize, — morals sicken the soul both in 
church and out of it, — every sensible man hates to be told 
what he could be and what he woji t be. I am here to make 
friends with you if you permit, — and to put an end to cere- 
mony, will you accompany me back to my hotel where I 
have ordered supper ?' ' 

By this time I had become indescribably fascinated by his 
easy manner, handsome presence and mellifluous voice, — 
the satirical turn of his humour suited mine, — I felt we should 
get on well together, — and my first annoyance at being dis- 
covered by him in such poverty-stricken circumstances some- 
what abated. 

"With pleasure!" I replied — ''But first of all, you must 
allow me to explain matters a little. You have heard a good 
deal about my affairs from my friend John Carrington, and 
I know from his private letter to me that you have come 
here out of pure kindness and goodwill. For that generous 
intention I thank you ! I know you expected to find a poor 
wretch of a literary man struggling with the direst circum- 
stances of disappointment and poverty, — and a couple of 
hours ago you would have amply fulfilled that expectation. 
But now, things have changed, — I have received news which 
completely alters my position, — in fact I have had a very 
great and remarkable surprise this evening ..." 

"An agreeable one I trust?" interposed my companion 

I smiled. 

"Judge for yourself!" And I handed him the lawyer's 
letter which informed me of my suddenly acquired fortune. 

He glanced it through rapidly, — then folded and returned it 
to me with a courteous bow. 

"I suppose I should congratulate you," — he said — "And 


I do. Though of course this wealth which seems to content 
you, to me appears a mere trifle. It can be quite conveniently- 
run through and exhausted in about eight years or less, 
therefore it does not provide absolute immunity from care. 
To be rich, really rich, in my sense of the word, one should 
have about a million a year. Then one might reasonably 
hope to escape the workhouse ! ' ' 

He laughed, — and I stared at him stupidly, not knowing 
how to take his words, whether as truth or idle boasting. 
Five Millions of money a mere trifle ! He went on without 
apparently noticing my amazement — 

"The inexhaustible greed of a man, my dear sir, can never 
be satisfied. If he is not consumed by desire for one thing, 
he is for another, and his tastes are generally expensive. A 
few pretty and unscrupulous women for example, would soon 
relieve you of your five millions in the purchase of jewels 
alone. Horse-racing would do it still more quickly. No, 
no, — you are not rich, — you are still poor, — only your needs 
are no longer so pressing as they were. And in this I confess 
myself somewhat disappointed, — for I came to you hoping to 
do a good turn to some one for once in my life, and to play 
the foster-father to a rising genius — and here I am — fore- 
stalled, — as usual ! It is a singular thing do you know, but 
nevertheless a fact, that whenever I have had any particular 
intentions towards a man I am always forestalled ! It is 
really rather hard upon me ?' ' He broke off and raised his 
head in a listening attitude. 

''What is that?" he asked. 

It was the violinist next door playing a well-known "Ave 
Maria." I told him so. 

"Dismal, — very dismal!" he said with a contemptuous 
shrug. "I hate all that kind of mawkish devotional stuff. 
Well ! — millionaire as you are, and acknowledged lion of 
society as you shortly will be, there is no objection I hope, 
to the proposed supper? And perhaps a music-hall after- 
wards if you feel inclined, — what do you say?" 


He clapped me on the shoulder cordially and looked 
straight into my face, — those wonderful eyes of his, suggestive 
of both tears and fire, fixed me with a clear masterful gaze that 
completely dominated me. I made no attempt to resist the 
singular attraction which now possessed me for this man whom 
I had but just met, — the sensation was too strong and too 
pleasant to be combated. Only for one moment more I 
hesitated, looking down at my shabby attire. 

'' I am not fit to accompany you, prince," I said — " I look 
more like a tramp than a millionaire." 

He glanced at me and smiled. 

" Upon my life, so you do !" he averred. — '^ But be satis- 
fied you are in this respect very like many another Croesus. 
It is only the poor and proud who take the trouble to dress 
well, — they and the dear * naughty' ladies generally monopo- 
lize tasteful and becoming attire. An ill-fitting coat often 
adorns the back of a Prime Minister, — and if you see a 
woman clad in clothes vilely cut and coloured, you may be 
sure she is eminently virtuous, renowned for good works, 
and probably a duchess. ' ' He rose, drawing his sables about 

"What matter the coat if the purse be full !" he continued 
gaily. — ''Let it once be properly paragraphed in the papers 
that you are a millionaire, and doubtless some enterprising 
tailor will invent a ' Tempest' ulster coloured softly like your 
present garb, an artistic mildewy green ! And now come 
along, — your solicitor's communication should have given 
you a good appetite, or it is not so valuable as it seems, — 
and I want you to do justice to my supper. I have my own 
chef with me, and he is not without skill. I hope, by the 
way, you will at least do me this much service, — that pending 
legal discussion and settlement of your affairs, you will let me 
be your banker?" 

This offer was made with such an air of courteous delicacy 
and friendship, that I could do no more than accept it grate- 
fully, as it relieved me from all temporary embarrassment. I 



hastily wrote a few lines to my landlady telling her she would 
receive the money owing to her by post next day, — then, 
thrusting my rejected manuscript, my only worldly possession, 
into my coat-pocket, I extinguished the lamp, and with the 
new friend I had so suddenly gained, I left my dismal lodg- 
ings and all its miserable associations for ever. I little 
thought the day would come when I should look back to the 
time spent in that small mean room as the best period of my 
life, — when I should regard the bitter poverty I then endured, 
as the stern but holy angel meant to guide me to the highest 
and noblest attainment, — when I should pray desperately with 
wild tears to be as I was then, rather than as I am now ! 
Is it well or ill for us I wonder, that the future is hidden from 
our knowledge ? Should we steer our ways clearer from evil 
if we knew its result ? It is a doubtful question, — at anyrate 
my ignorance for the moment was indeed bliss. I went joy- 
fully out of the dreary house where I had lived so long among 
disappointments and difficulties, turning my back upon it with 
such a sense of relief as could never be expressed in words, — 
and the last thing I heard as I passed into the street with my 
companion was a plaintive long-drawn w^ail of minor melody, 
which seemed to be sent after me like a parting cry, by the 
unknown and invisible player of the violin. 


Outside, the prince's carriage waited, drawn by two spir- 
ited black horses caparisoned in silver, magnificent thorough- 
breds which pawed the ground and champed their bits im- 
patient of delay, — at sight of his master the smart footman 
in attendance threw the door open, touching his hat respect- 
fully. We stepped in, I preceding my companion at his ex- 
pressed desire ; and as I sank back among the easy cushions I 
felt the complacent consciousness of luxury and power to 


such an extent that it seemed as if I had left my days of ad- 
versity already a long way behind me. Hunger and happiness 
disputed my sensations between them, and I was in that vague 
light-headed condition common to long fasting, in which 
nothing seemed absolutely tangible or real. I knew I should 
not properly grasp the solid truth of my wonderful good luck 
till my physical needs were satisfied, and I was, so to speak, 
once more in a naturally balanced bodily condition. At 
present my brain was in a whirl, — my thoughts were all dim 
and disconnected, — and I appeared to myself to be in some 
whimsical dream from which I should wake up directly. The 
carriage rolled on rubber-tyred wheels and made no noise as 
it went, — one could only hear the even rapid trot of the 
horses. By-and-by I saw in the semi-darkness my new 
friend's brilliant dark eyes fixed upon me with a curiously 
intent expression. 

"Do you not feel the world already at your feet?" he 
queried half playfully, half ironically — " Like a football, 
waiting to be kicked ? It is such an absurd world, you know 
— so easily moved. Wise men in all ages have done their 
best to make it less ridiculous, — with no result, inasmuch as it 
continues to prefer folly to wisdom. A football, or let us say 
a shuttlecock among worlds, ready to be tossed up anyhow and 
anywhere, provided the battledore be of gold !" 

"You speak a trifle bitterly, prince" — I said — "But no 
doubt you have had a wide experience among men?" 

" I have," he returned with emphasis — " My kingdom is a 
vast one." 

" You are a ruling power then?" I exclaimed with some 
astonishment — "Yours is not a title of honour only?" 

"Oh, as your rules of aristocracy go, it is a mere title of 
honour" — he replied quickly — " When I say that my king- 
dom is a vast one, I mean that I rule wherever men obey the 
influence of wealth. From this point of view, am I wrong in 
calling my kingdom vast ? — is it not almost boundless ?" 

"I perceive you are a cynic," — I said — "Yet surely you 


believe that there are some things wealth cannot buy, — honour 
and virtue for example?" 

He surveyed me with a whimsical smile. 

" I suppose honour and virtue ^'/d? exist — " he answered — 
" And when they are existent of course they cannot be bought. 
But my experience has taught me that I can always buy 
everything. The sentiments called honour and virtue by the 
majority of men are the most shifty things imaginable, — set 
sufficient cash down, and they become bribery and corruption 
in the twinkling of an eye ! Curious — very curious. I con- 
fess I found a case of unpurchaseable integrity once, but only 
once. I may find it again, though I consider the chance a 
very doubtful one. Now to revert to myself, pray do not 
imagine I am playing the humbug with you or passing myself 
off under a bogus title. I am a boiia-fide prince, believe me, 
and of such descent as none of your oldest families can 
boast, — but my dominions are long since broken up and 
my former subjects dispersed among all nations, — anarchy, 
nihilism, disruption and political troubles generally, compel 
me to be rather reticent concerning my affairs. Money I 
fortunately have in plenty, — and with that I pave my way. 
Some day when we are better acquainted, you shall know 
more of my private history. I have various other names and 
titles besides that on my card — but I keep to the simplest of 
them, because most people are such bunglers at the pronunci- 
ation of foreign names. My intimate friends generally drop 
my title and call me Lucio simply." 

"That is your Christian name — ?" I began. 

'' Not at all — I have no ' Christian' name," — he interrupted 
swiftly and with anger — '' There is no such thing as ' Christian' 
in my composition !" 

He spoke with such impatience that for a moment I was at 
a loss for a reply. At last — 

"Indeed !" I murmured vaguely. 

He burst out laughing. 

Indeed !' That is all you can find to say ! Indeed and 

<( i 



again indeed, the word ' Christian' vexes me. There is no 
such being alive. Vou are not a Christian, — no one is 
really, — people pretend to be, — and in so damnable an act 
of feigning are more blasphemous than any fallen fiend ! 
Now I make no pretences of the kind, — 1 have only one 

''And that is?" — 

'* A profound and awful one !" he said in thrilling tones — 
''And the worst of it is that it is true, — as true as the work- 
ings of the Universe. But of that hereafter, — it will do to 
talk of when we feel low-spirited and wish to converse of 
things grim and ghastly, — at present here we are at our des- 
tination, and the chief consideration of our* lives, (it is the 
chief consideration of most men's lives) must be the excel- 
lence or non-excellence of our food." 

The carriage stopped and we descended. At first sight of 
the black horses and silver trappings, the porter of the hotel 
and two or three other servants rushed out to attend upon us, 
but the prince passed into the hall without noticing any of 
them, and addressed himself to a sober-looking individual in 
black, his own private valet, who came forward to meet him 
with a profound salutation. I murmured something about 
wishing to engage a room for myself in the hotel. 

" Oh, my man will see to that for you" — he said lightly — 
" The house is not full, — at anyrate all the best rooms are not 
taken ; and of course you want one of the best." 

A staring waiter, who up to that moment had been noting 
my shabby clothes with that peculiar air of contempt com- 
monly displayed by insolent menials to those whom they 
imagine are poor, overheard these words, and suddenly chang- 
ing the derisive expression of his foxy face, bowed obse- 
quiously as I passed. A thrill of disgust ran through me, 
mingled with a certain angry triumph, — the hypocritical reflex 
of this low fellow's countenance, was, I knew, a true epitome 
of what I should find similarly reflected in the manner and 
attitude of all ' polite' society. For there the estimate of 


worth is no higher than a common servant's estimate, and is 
taken solely from the money standard ; — if you are poor and 
dress shabbily you are thrust aside and ignored, — but if you 
are rich, you may wear shabby clothes as much as you 
like, you are still courted and flattered and invited every- 
where, though you may be the greatest fool alive or the worst 
blackguard unhung. With vague thoughts such as these flit- 
ting over my mind, I followed my host to his rooms. He 
occupied nearly a whole wing of the hotel, having a large 
drawing-room, dining-room and study en suite, fitted up in 
the most luxurious manner, besides bedroom, bathroom, and 
dressing-room, with other rooms adjoining, for his valet and 
two extra personal attendants. The table was laid for supper, 
and glittered with the costliest glass, silver and china, being 
furthermore adorned by baskets of the most exquisite fruit and 
flowers, and in a few moments we were seated. The prince's 
valet acted as head-waiter, and I noticed that now this man's 
face, seen in the full light of the electric lamps, seemed very 
dark and unpleasant, even sinister in expression, — but in the 
performance of his duties he was unexceptionable, being quick, 
attentive, and deferential, so much so that I inwardly re- 
proached myself for taking an instinctive dislike to him. His 
name was Amiel, and I found myself involuntarily watching 
his movements, they were so noiseless, — his very step suggest- 
ing the stealthy gliding of a cat or a tiger. He was assisted 
in his work by the two other attendants who served as his 
subordinates, and who were equally active and well-trained, — 
and presently I found myself enjoying the choicest meal I had 
tasted for many and many a long day, flavoured with such wine 
as connoisseurs might be apt to dream of, but never succeed 
in finding. I began to feel perfectly at my ease, and talked 
with freedom and confidence, the strong attraction I had for 
my new friend deepening with every moment I passed in his 

'* Will you continue your literary career now you have this 
little fortune left you?" he inquired, when at the close of 


supper Amiel set the choicest cognac and cigars before us and 
respectfully withdrew — '' Do you think you will care to go on 
with it?" 

" Certainly I shall," — I replied — ''if only for the fun of the 
thing. You see, with money I can force my name into 
notice whether the public like it or not. No newspaper 
refuses paying advertisements." 

" True ! — but may not inspiration refuse to flow from a full 
purse and an empty head ?" 

This remark provoked me not a little. 

*'Do you consider me empty-headed?" I asked with some 

" Not at present. My dear Tempest, do not let either the 
Tokay we have been drinking, or the cognac we are going to 
drink, speak for you in such haste ! I assure you I do not 
think you empty-headed, — on the contrary, your head, I 
believe from what I have heard, has been and is full of ideas, 
— excellent ideas, original ideas, which the world of conven- 
tional criticism does not want. But whether these ideas will 
continue to germinate in your brain, or whether, with the full 
purse, they will cease, is now the question. Great originality 
and inspiration, strange to say, seldom endow the millionaire. 
Inspiration is supposed to come from above, — money from 
below ! In your case however both originality and inspira- 
tion may continue to flourish and bring forth fruit, — I trust 
they may. It often happens, nevertheless that when bags of 
money fall to the lot of aspiring genius, God departs an(3 the 
devil walks in. Have you never heard that ?' ' 

'* Never !" I answered smiling. 

''Well, of course the saying is foolish, and sounds doubly 
ridiculous in this age when people believe in neither God nor 
devil. It implies however that one must choose an up or a 
down, — genius is the Up, money is the Down. You cannot 
fly and grovel at the same instant." 

"The possession of money is not likely to cause a man 
to grovel" — I said — "It is the one thing necessary to 


strengthen his soaring powers and lift him to the greatest 

"You think so?" and my host lit his cigar with a grave 
and pre-occupied air — "Then I'm afraid you don't know 
much about what I shall call natural psychics. What belongs 
to the earth tends earthwards, — surely you realize that ? Gold 
most strictly belongs to the earth, — you dig it out of the 
ground, — you handle it and dispose of it in solid wedges or 
bars — it is a substantial metal enough. Genius belongs to 
nobody knows where, — you cannot dig it up or pass it on, or 
do anything with it except stand and marvel — it is a rare visit- 
ant and capricious as the wind, and generally makes sad havoc 
among the conventionalities of men. It is as I said an * up- 
per' thing, beyond earthly smells and savours, — and those who 
have it always live in unknown high latitudes. But money is 
a perfectly level commodity, — level with the ground ; — when 
you have much of it, you come down solidly on your flat 
soles, and down you stay !" 

I laughed. 

" Upon my word you preach very eloquently against 
wealth?" I said — "You yourself are unusually rich, — are you 
sorry for it ?" 

"No, I am not sorry because being sorry would be no 
use" — he returned — " And I never waste my time. But I am 
telling you the truth — Genius and great riches hardly ever pull 
together. Now I, for example,— you cannot imagine what 
great capabilities I had once ! — a long time ago — before I 
became my own master ! " 

"And you have them still I am sure," — I averred, looking 
expressively at his noble head and fine eyes. 

The strange subtle smile I had noticed once or twice before 
lightened his face. " Ah, you mean to compliment me !" he 
said — "You like my looks, — many people do. Yet after all 
there is nothing so deceptive as one's outward appearance. 
The reason of this is, that as soon as childhood is past, we 
are always pretending to be what we are not, — and thus, with 


constant practice from our youth up, we manage to make our 
physical frames complete disguises for our actual selves. It is 
really wise and clever of us, — for hence each individual is so 
much flesh-wall through which neither friend nor enemy can 
spy. Every man is a solitary soul imprisoned in a self-made 
den, — when he is quite alone he knows and frequently hates 
himself, — sometimes he even gets afraid of the gaunt and mur- 
derous monster he keeps hidden behind his outwardly pleasant 
body-mask, and hastens to forget its frightful existence in 
drink and debauchery. That is what I do occasionally, — you 
would not think it of me, would you?" 

*' Never !" I replied quickly, for something in his voice and 
aspect moved me strangely — ' ' You belie yourself, and wrong 
your own nature." 

He laughed softly. 

** Perhaps I do !" he said carelessly — *' This much you may 
believe of me — that I am no worse than most men ! Now to 
return to the subject of your literary career, — you have written 
a book you say, — well, publish it and see the result — if you 
only make one * hit' that is something. And there are ways 
of arranging that the ' hit' shall be made. What is your 
story about? I hope it is improper ?" 

'^ It certainly is not," — I replied warmly — " It is a romance 
dealing with the noblest forms of life and highest ambitions, 
— I wrote it with the intention of elevating and purifying the 
thoughts of my readers, and wished if I could, to comfort 
those who 'lad suffered loss or sorrow — ' ' 

Rimanez smiled compassionately. 

*' x\h, it won't do !" he interrupted — '' I assure you it won't; 
it doesn't fit the age. It might go down, possibly, if you 
could give a ' first-night' of it as it were to the critics, like 
one of my most intimate friends Henry Irving, — a * first- 
night' combined with an excellent supper and any amount 
of good drinks going. Otherwise it's no use. If it is to 
succeed by itself, it must not attempt to be literature, — it 
must simply be indecent. As indecent as you can make it 



without offending advanced women, — that is giving you a 
good wide margin. Put in as much as you can about sexual 
matters and the bearing of children, — in brief, discourse of 
men and women simply as cattle who exist merely for breed- 
ing purposes, and your success will be enormous. There's 
not a critic living who won't applaud you, — there's not a 
school-girl of fifteen who will not gloat over your pages in 
the silence of her virginal bedroom !" 

Such a flash of withering derision darted from his eyes as 
startled me, — I could find no words to answer him for the 
moment, and he went on — 

'* What put it into your head, my dear Tempest, to write 
a book dealing with, as you say, ' the noblest forms of life' ? 
There are no noble forms of life left on this planet, — it is all 
low and commercial, — man is a pigmy, and his aims are 
pigmy like himself. For noble forms of life seek other 
worlds ! — there are others. Then again, people don't want 
their thoughts raised or purified in the novels they read for 
amusement — they go to church for that, and get very bored 
during the process. And why should you wish to comfort 
folks who, out of their own sheer stupidity generally, get into 
trouble? They wouldn't comfort jj^^^^, — they would not give 
you sixpence to save you from starvation. My good fellow, 
leave your quixotism behind you with your poverty. Live 
your life to yourself, — if you do anything for others they will 
only treat you with the blackest ingratitude, — so take my 
advice, and don't sacrifice your own personal interests for 
any consideration whatever." 

He rose from the table as he spoke and stood with his back 
to the bright fire, smoking his cigar tranquilly, — and I gazed 
at his handsome figure and face with just the faintest thrill of 
pained doubt darkening my admiration. 

'' If you were not so good-looking I should call you heart- 
less" — I said at last — ''But your features are a direct con- 
tradiction to your words. You have not really that indif- 
ference to human nature which you strive to assume, — your 


whole aspect betokens a generosity of spirit which you cannot 
conquer if you would. Besides are you not always trying to 
do good ?' ' 

He smiled. 

"Always! That is, I am always at work endeavouring to 
gratify every man's desire. Whether that is good of me, or 
bad, remains to be proved. Men's wants are almost illimit- 
able, — the only thing none of them ever seem to wish, so far 
as I am concerned, is to cut my acquaintance ! ' ' 

"■ Why, of course not ! After once meeting you, how could 
they !" I said, laughing at the absurdity of the suggestion. 

He gave me a whimsical side-look. 

" Their desires are not always virtuous," he remarked, turn- 
ing to flick off the ash of his cigar into the grate. 

" But of course you do not gratify them in their vices !" I 
rejoined, still laughing — '' That would be playing the part of 
a benefactor somewhat too thoroughly !" 

"Ah now I see we shall flounder in the quicksands of 
theory if we go any further" — he said — " You forget, my dear 
fellow, that nobody can decide as to what is vice, or what is 
virtue. These things are chameleon-like and take difi^erent 
colours in different countries. Abraham had two or three 
wives and several concubines, and he was the very soul of 
virtue according to sacred lore, — whereas my Lord Tom- 
Noddy in London to-day has one wife and several concu- 
bines, and is really very much like Abraham in other par- 
ticulars, yet he is considered a very dreadful person. 'Who 
shall decide when doctors disagree!' Let's drop the sub- 
ject, as we shall never settle it. What shall we do with the 
rest of the evening ? There is a stout-limbed shrewd wench 
at the Tivoli, dancing her way into the aff"ections of a 
ricketty little Duke, — shall we go and watch the admirable 
contortions with which she is wriggling into a fixed position 
among the English aristocracy ? Or are you tired, and would 
you prefer a long night's rest?" 

To tell the truth I was thoroughly fatigued, and mentally 


as well as physically worn out with the excitements of the day, 
— my head too was heavy with the wine to which I had so 
long been unaccustomed. 

'' Upon my word I think I would rather go to bed than 
anything, — " I confessed — " But what about my room?" 

'' Oh, Amiel will have attended to that for you, — we'll ask 
him. ' ' And he touched the bell. His valet instantly appeared. 

*' Have you got a room for Mr Tempest ?" 

*'Yes, your Excellency. An apartment in this corridor 
almost facing your Excellency's suite. It is not as well fur- 
nished as it might be, but I have made it as comfortable as I 
can for the night." 

" Thanks very much ! " I said — ''I am greatly obliged to 

Amiel bowed deferentially. 

** Thank jw/-, sir." 

He retired, and I moved to bid my host good-night. He 
took my proffered hand, and held it in his, looking at me 
curiously the while. 

**I like you, Geoffrey Tempest," he said — ''And because 
I like you, and because I think there are the makings of 
something higher than mere earthy brute in you, I am going 
to make you what you may perhaps consider rather a singular 
proposition. It is this, — that if you don't like vie, say so at 
once, and we will part now, before we have time to know 
anything more of each other, and I will endeavour not to 
cross your path again unless you seek me out. But if on 
the contrary, you do like me, — if you find something in my 
humour or turn of mind congenial to your own disposition, 
give me your promise that you will be my friend and com- 
rade for a while, say for a few months at any rate. I can 
take you into the best society, and introduce you to the 
prettiest women in Europe, as well as the most brilliant men. 
I know them all, and I believe I can be useful to you. But 
if there is the smallest aversion to me lurking in the depths 
of your nature," — here he paused, — then resumed with ex- 


traordinary solemnity — ''in God's name give it full way and 
let me go, — because I swear to you in all sober earnest that I 
am not what I seem !" 

Strongly impressed by his strange look and stranger manner, 
I hesitated one moment, — and on that moment, had I but 
known it, hung my future. It was true, — I had felt a passing 
shadow of distrust and repulsion for this fascinating yet 
cynical man, and he seemed to have guessed it. But now 
every suspicion of him vanished from my mind, and I clasped 
his hand with renewed heartiness. 

"My dear fellow, your warning comes too late!" I said 
mirthfully — "Whatever you are, or whatever you choose to 
think you are, I find you most sympathetic to my disposition, 
and I consider myself most fortunate in knowing you. My 
old friend Carrington has indeed done me a good turn in 
bringing us together, and I assure you I shall be proud of 
your companionship. You seem to take a perverse delight 
in running yourself down ! — but you know the old adage, 
' the devil is not so black as he is painted' ?" 

" And that is true !" he murmured dreamily — " Poor devil ! 
— His faults are no doubt much exaggerated by the clergy ! 
And so we are to be friends ?' ' 

" I hope so ! I shall not be the first to break the compact !" 

His dark eyes rested upon me thoughtfully, yet there seemed 
to be a lurking smile in them as well. 

"Compact is a good word" — he said — "So, — a compact 
we will consider it. I meant to improve your material for- 
tunes, — you can dispense with that aid now ; but I think I 
can still be of service in pushing you on in society. And love 
— of course you will fall in love, if you have not already done 
so, — have you ?' ' 

"Not I!" I answered quickly and with truth — "I have 
seen no woman yet who perfectly fulfils my notions of 
beauty. ' ' 

He burst out laughing violently. 

" Upon my word you are not wanting in audacity !" he said 


— "Nothing but perfect beauty will suit you, eh? But con- 
sider, my friend, you, though a good-looking well-built man, 
are not yourself quite a Phoebus Apollo !" 

"That has nothing to do with the matter" — I rejoined — 
"A man should choose a wife with a careful eye to his own 
personal gratification, in the same way that he chooses horses 
or wine, — perfection or nothing." 

"And the woman?" — Rimanez demanded, his eyes twink- 

"The woman has really no right of choice," — I responded, 
for this was my pet argument and I took pleasure in setting it 
forth — " She must mate wherever she has the chance of being 
properly maintained. A man is always a man, — a woman 
is only a man's appendage, and without beauty she can- 
not put forth any just claim to his admiration or his sup- 

"Right! — very right, and logically argued!" — he ex- 
claimed, — becoming preternaturally serious in a moment — "I 
myself have no sympathy with the new ideas that are in vogue 
concerning the intellectuality of woman. She is simply the 
female of man, — she has no real soul save that which is a 
reflex of his, and being destitute of logic, she is incapable of 
forming a correct opinion on any subject. All the imposture 
of religion is kept up by this unmathematical hysterical crea- 
ture, — and it is curious, considering how inferior a being 
she is, what mischief she has contrived to make in the world, 
upsetting the plans of the wisest kings and counsellors, 
who as mere men, should undoubtedly have mastered her 1 
And in the present age she is becoming more than ever 

"It is only a passing phase," — I returned carelessly — "A 
fad got up by a few unloved and unlovable types of the femi- 
nine sex. I care very little for women — I doubt whether I 
shall ever marry." 

"Well you have plenty of time to consider, and amuse 
yourself with the fair ones en passant'' — he said watching me 


narrowly — ''And in the meantime I can take you round 
the different marriage-markets of the world if you choose, 
though the largest one of them all is of course this very 
metropolis. Splendid bargains to be had, my dear friend ! 
— wonderful blonde and brunette specimens going really very 
cheap. We'll examine them at our leisure. I'm glad you 
have yourself decided that we are to be comrades, — for I am 
proud ; — I may say damnably proud ; — and never stay in any 
man's company when he expresses the slightest wish to be rid 
of me. Good-night !" 

'' Good-night !" I responded. We clasped hands again, and 
they were still interlocked, when a sudden flash of lightning 
blazed vividly across the room, followed instantaneously by a 
terrific clap of thunder. The electric lights went out, and 
only the glow of the fire illumined our faces. I was a little 
startled and confused, — the prince stood still, quite uncon- 
cerned, his eyes shining like those of a cat in the darkness. 

*' What a storm !" he remarked lightly — " Such thunder in 
winter is rather unusual. Amiel !" 

The valet entered, his sinister countenance resembling a 
white mask made visible in the gloom. 

" These lamps have gone out" — said his master — *' It's very 
odd that civilized humanity has not yet learned the complete 
management of the electric light. Can you put them in order, 

'* Yes, your Excellency." And in a few moments, by some 
dexterous manipulation which I did not understand and could 
not see, the crystal-cased jets shone forth again with renewed 
brilliancy. Another peal of thunder crashed overhead, fol- 
lowed by a downpour of rain. 

"Really remarkable weather for January," — said Rimanez, 
again giving me his hand — " Good-night, my friend ! Sleep 

"If the anger of the elements will permit !" I returned, 

" Oh, never mind the elements. Man has nearly mastered 


them or soon will do so, now that he is getting gradually 
convinced there is no Deity to interfere in his business. 
Amiel, show Mr Tempest to his room." 

Amiel obeyed, and crossing the corridor, ushered me into 
a large, luxurious apartment, richly furnished, and lit up by 
the blaze of a bright fire. The comforting warmth shone 
welcome upon me as I entered, and I who had not experi- 
enced such personal luxury since my boyhood's days, felt 
more than ever overpowered by the jubilant sense of my sud- 
den extraordinary good fortune. Amiel waited respectfully, 
now and then furtively glancing at me with an expression 
which to my fancy had something derisive in it. 

*' Is there anything I can do for you, sir?" he inquired. 

''No, thank you" — I answered, endeavouring to throw an 
accent of careless condescension into my voice — for somehow 
I felt this man must be kept strictly in his place — " you have 
been very attentive, — I shall not forget it." 

A slight smile flickered over his features. 

'' Much obliged to you, sir. Good-night." 

And he retired, leaving me alone. I paced the room up 
and down more dreamily than consciously, trying to think, — 
trying to set in order the amazing events of the day, but my 
brain was still dazed and confused, and the only image of 
actual prominence in my mind was the striking and remarkable 
personality of my new friend Rimanez. His extraordinary 
good looks, his attractive manner, his curious cynicism which 
was so oddly mixed with some deeper sentiment to which I 
could not give a name, all the trifling yet uncommon peculiar- 
ities of his bearing and humour, haunted me and became in- 
dissolubly mingled as it were with myself and all the circum- 
stances concerning me. I undressed before the fire, listening 
drowsily to the rain, and the thunder which was now dying 
off into sullen echoes. 

''Geoffrey Tempest, the world is before you" — I said, 
apostrophizing myself indolently — "you are a young man, — 
you have health, a good appearance, and brains, — added to 


these you now have five millions of money, and a wealthy 
prince for your friend. What more do you want of Fate or 
Fortune ? Nothing — except fame ! And that you will get 
easily, for now-a-days even fame is purchasable — like love. 
Your star is in the ascendant, — no more literary drudgery for 
you my boy ! — pleasure and profit and ease are yours to enjoy 
for the rest of your life. You are a lucky dog ! — at last you 
have your day ! ' ' 

I flung myself upon the soft bed, and settled myself to 
sleep, — and as I dozed off, I still heard the rumble of heavy 
thunder in the distance. Once I fancied I heard the prince's 
voice calling "Amiel! Amiel !" with a wildness resembling 
the shriek of an angry wind, — and at another moment I started 
violently from a profound slumber under the impression that 
someone had approached and was looking fixedly at me. I 
sat up in bed, peering into the darkness, for the fire had gone 
out ; — then I turned on a small electric night-lamp at my side 
which fully illumined the room, — there was no one there. 
Yet my imagination played me such tricks before I could rest 
again that I thought I heard a hissing whisper near me that 
said — 

^^ Peace! Trouble him not. Let the fool in his folly 


The next morning on rising, I learned that * his Excel- 
lency' as Prince Rimanez was called by his own servants and 
the employes of the * Grand,' had gone out riding in the 
Park, leaving me to breakfast alone. I therefore took that 
meal in the public room of the hotel, where I was waited upon 
with the utmost obsequiousness, in spite of my shabby clothes, 
which I was of course still compelled to wear, having no 
change. When would I be pleased to lunch ? At what hour 
would I dine ? Should my present apartment be retained ? — 


or was it not satisfactory? Would I prefer a 'suite' similar to 
that occupied by his Excellency? All these deferential ques- 
tions first astonished and then amused me, — some mysterious 
agency had evidently conveyed the rumor of my wealth among 
those best fitted to receive it, and here was the first result. In 
reply I said my movements were uncertain, — I should be able 
to give definite instructions in the course of a few hours, and 
that in the meantime I retained my room. The breakfast 
over, I sallied forth to go to my lawyers, and was just about to 
order a hansom when I saw my new friend coming back from 
his ride. He bestrode a magnificent chestnut mare, whose 
wild eyes and strained quivering limbs showed she was fresh 
from a hard gallop and was scarcely yet satisfied to be under 
close control. She curveted and danced among the carts and 
cabs in a somewhat risky fashion, but she had her master in 
Rimanez, who if he had looked handsome by night looked 
still more so by day, with a slight colour warming the natural 
pallor of his complexion and his eyes sparkling with all the 
zest of exercise and enjoyment. I waited for his approach, as 
did also Amiel, who as usual timed his appearance in the hotel 
corridor in exact accordance with the moment of his master's 
arrival. Rimanez smiled as he caught sight of me, touching 
his hat with the handle of his whip by way of salutation. 

*' You slept late. Tempest" — he said, as he dismounted and 
threw the reins to a groom who had cantered up after him, — 
*' Tomorrow you must come with me and join what they call 
in fashionable slang parlance the Liver Brigade. Once upon 
a time it was considered the height of indelicacy and low 
breeding to mention the ' liver' or any other portion of one's 
internal machinery, — but we have done with all that now, 
and we find a peculiar satisfaction in discoursing of disease 
and unsavoury medical matters generally. And in the Liver 
Brigade you see at a glance all those interesting fellows who 
have sold themselves to the devil for the sake of the flesh- 
pots of Egypt, — men who eat till they are well-nigh bursting, 
and then prance up and down on good horses, — much too 


respectable beasts by the way to bear such bestial burdens — 
in the hope of getting out of their poisoned blood the evil 
they have themselves put in. They think me one of them, 
but I am not." 

He patted his mare, and the groom led her away, the foam 
of her hard ride still flecking her glossy chest and forelegs. 

"Why do you join the procession then !" I asked him, 
laughing and glancing at him with undisguised approval as I 
spoke, for he seemed more admirably built than ever in his 
well-fitting riding gear — " You are a fraud !" 

"I am!" he responded lightly — "And do you know I am 
not the only one in London ! Where are you off to ?' ' 

" To those lawyers who wrote to me last night ; — Bentham 
and Ellis is the name of the firm. The sooner I interview 
them the better; don't you think so?" 

"Yes — but see here," — and he drew me aside — "You 
must have some ready cash. It doesn't look well to apply at 
once for advances, — and there is really no necessity to ex- 
plain to these legal men that you were on the verge of starva- 
tion when their letter arrived. Take this pocket-book, — re- 
member you promised to let me be your banker, — and on 
your way you might go to some well-reputed tailor and get 
properly rigged out. Ta-ta !" 

He moved off at a rapid pace, — I hurried after him, touched 
to the quick by his kindness, 

" But wait — I say — Lucio !" And I called him thus by his 
familiar name for the first time. He stopped at once and 
stood quite still. 

" Well?" he said, regarding me with an attentive smile. 

"You don't give me time to speak" — I answered in a low 
voice, for we were standing in one of the public corridors of 
the hotel — "The fact is I have some money, or rather I can 
get it directly, — Carrington sent me a draft for fifty pounds 
in his letter — I forgot to tell you about it. It was very good 
of him to lend it to me, — you had better have it as security for 
this pocket-book, — by-the-bye how much is there inside it?" 


*' Five hundred, in bank notes of tens and twenties," — he 
responded with business-like brevity. 

"Five hundred! My dear fellow, I don't want all that. 
It's too much !" 

*' Better have too much than too little now-a-days," — he 
retorted with a laugh — " My dear Tempest, don't make such 
a business of it. Five hundred pounds is really nothing. 
You can spend it all on a dressing-case for example. Better 
send back John Carrington's draft, — I don't think much of 
his generosity considering that he came into a mine worth 
a hundred thousand pounds sterling a few days before I left 
Australia. ' ' 

I heard this with great surprise, and, I must admit with a 
slight feeling of resentment too. The frank and generous 
character of my old chum * Boffles' seemed to darken sud- 
denly in my eyes, — why could he not have told me of his 
good fortune in his letter ? Was he afraid I might trouble 
him for further loans? I suppose my looks expressed my 
thoughts, for Rimanez, who had observed me intently, pres- 
ently added — 

"Did he not tell you of his luck? That was not very 
friendly of him — but as I remarked last night, money often 
spoils a man." 

" Oh, I daresay he meant no slight by the omission," I 
said hurriedly, forcing a smile — "No doubt he will make it 
the subject of his next letter. Now as to this five hun- 

"Keep it, man, keep it" — he interposed impatiently — 
" What do you talk about security for ? Haven't I got you as 
security ?" 

I laughed. "Well, I am fairly reliable now" — I said — 
" And I'm not going to run away." 

" From me .?" he queried, with a half cold, half kind glance. 
"No, — I fancy not !" 

He waved his hand lightly, and left me, and I, putting the 
leather case of notes in my inner breast-pocket, hailed a 


hansom, and was driven off rapidly to Basinghall Street where 
my sohcitors awaited me. 

Arrived at my destination, I sent up my name, and was 
received at once with the utmost respect by two small chips 
of men in rusty black who represented ' the firm. ' At my 
request they sent down their clerk to pay and dismiss my cab, 
while I, opening Lucio's pocket book, asked them to change 
me a ten-pound note into gold and silver which they did with 
ready good-will. Then we went into business together. My 
deceased relative, whom I had never seen as far as I myself 
remembered, but who had seen me as a motherless baby in 
my nurse's arms, had left me everything he possessed uncon- 
ditionally, including several rare collections of pictures, jewels 
and curios. His will was so concisely and clearly worded 
that there were no possibilities of any legal hair-splitting over 
it, — and I was informed that in a week or ten days at the 
utmost, everything would be in order and at my sole dispo- 

*'You are a very fortunate man, Mr Tempest" — said the 
senior partner, Mr Bentham, as he folded up the last of the 
papers we had been looking through and put it by — ''At your 
age this princely inheritance may be either a great boon to 
you or a great curse, — one never knows. The possession of 
such enormous wealth involves great responsibilities." 

I was amused at what I considered the impertinence of this 
mere servant of the law in presuming to moralize on my luck. 

*' Many people would be glad to accept such responsibilities 
and change places with me," — I said with a flippant air — 
** You yourself, for example ?' ' 

I knew this remark was not in' good taste, but I made it 
wilfully, feeling that he had no business to preach to me as 
it were on the responsibilities of wealth. He took no offence 
however, — he merely gave me an observant side glance like 
that of some meditative crow. 

''No, Mr Tempest, no" — he said drily — "I do not think 
I should at all be disposed to change places with you. I feel 
c d 5 


very well satisfied as I am. My brain is my bank, and brings 
me in quite sufficient interest to live upon, which is all that 
I desire. To be comfortable, and pay one's way honestly is 
enough for me. I have never envied the wealthy." 

"Mr Bentham is a philosopher," — interposed his partner 
Mr Ellis smiling — " In our profession Mr Tempest, we see 
so many ups and downs of life, that in watching the variable 
fortunes of our clients, we ourselves learn the lesson of con- 

''Ah, it is a lesson that I have never mastered till now !" 
I responded merrily — ''But at the present moment I confess 
myself satisfied." 

They each gave me a formal little bow, and Mr Bentham 
shook hands. 

" Business being concluded, allow me to congratulate you," 
he said politely — "Of course, if you should wish at any time 
to entrust your legal affairs to other hands my partner and 
myself are perfectly willing to withdraw. Your deceased 
relative had the highest confidence in us . . . " 

"As I have also, I assure you" — I interrupted quickly — 
" Pray do me the favour to continue managing things for me 
as you did for my relative and be assured of my gratitude in 

Both little men bowed again, and this time Mr Ellis shook 

"We shall do our best for you, Mr Tempest, shall we not 
Bentham?" Bentham nodded gravely. "And now what 
do you say — shall we mention it Bentham ? — or shall we not 
mention it ?" 

"Perhaps," responded Bentham sententiously — " it would 
be as well to mention it," 

I glanced from one to the other, not understanding what 
they rneant. Mr Ellis rubbed his hands and smiled depre- 

"The fact is Mr Tempest, your deceased relative had one 
very curious idea — he was a shrewd man and a clever one, 


but he certainly had one very curious idea — and perhaps if 
he had followed it up to any extent, it might — yes, it might 
have landed him in a lunatic asylum and prevented his dis- 
posing of his extensive fortune in the — er — the very just and 
reasonable manner he has done. Happily for himself and — 
er — for you, he did not follow it up, and to the last he re- 
tained his admirable business qualities and high sense of recti- 
tude. But I do not think he ever quite dispossessed himself 
ot the idea itself, did he Bentham ?^ 

Bentham gazed meditatively at the round black mark of 
the gas-burner where it darkened the ceiling, 

" I think not, — no, I think not," he answered — " I believe 
he was perfectly convinced of it." 

"And what was it ?" I asked, getting impatient — " Did he 
want to bring out some patent ? — a new notion for a flying- 
machine, and get rid of his money in that way ?" 

" No, no, no !" and Mr Ellis laughed a soft pleasant little 
laugh over my suggestion — "No, my dear sir — nothing of a 
purely mechanical or commercial turn captivated his imagina- 
tion. He was too er — yes, I think I may say too profoundly 
opposed to what is called ' progress' in the world to aid it by 
any new invention or other means whatever. You see it is a 
little awkward for me to explain to .you what really seems to 
be the most absurd and fantastic notion, — but — to begin 
with, we never really knew how he made his money, did we 

Bentham shook his head and pursed his lips closely to- 

' ' We had to take charge of large sums, and advise as to 
investments and other matters, — but it was not our business to 
inquire where the cash came from in the first place, was it, 

Again Bentham shook his head solemnly. 

"We were entrusted with it" — went on his partner, press- 
ing the tips of his fingers together caressingly as he spoke — 
" and we did our best to fulfil that trust— with — er— with dis- 


cretion and fidelity. And it was only after we had been for 
many years connected in business that our client mentioned — 
er — his idea ; — a most erratic and extraordinary one, which 
was briefly this — that he had sold himself to the devil, and 
that his large fortune was one result of the bargain !" 

I burst out laughing heartily. 

" What a ridiculous notion !" I exclaimed — " Poor man I — 
a weak spot in his brain somewhere evidently, — or perhaps he 
used the expression as a mere figure of speech?" 

"I think not" — responded Mr Ellis half interrogatively, 
still caressing his fingers — " I think our client did not use the 
phrase ' sold to the devil' as a figure of speech merely, Mr 

'* I am positive he did not" — said Bentham seriously — ''He 
spoke of the ' bargain' as an actual and accomplished fact. ' ' 

I laughed again with a trifle less boisterousness. 

"Well, people have all sorts of fancies now-a-days" — I 
said. " What with Blavatskyism, Besantism and hypnotism, it 
is no wonder if some folks still have a faint credence in the 
silly old superstition of a devil's existence. But for a thor- 
oughly sensible man ..." 

*'Yes — er, yes" — interrupted Mr Ellis — "Your relative 
Mr Tempest, 7vas a thoroughly sensible man, and this — er — 
this idea was the only fancy that ever appeared to have taken 
root in his eminently practical mind. Being only an idea 
it seemed hardly worth mentioning — but perhaps it is well 
— Mr Bentham agreeing with me — that we have mentioned 

" It is a satisfaction and relief to ourselves" — said Mr Ben- 
tham, " to have had it mentioned." 

I smiled, and thanking them, rose to go. They bowed to me 
once more, simultaneously, looking almost like twin brothers, 
so identically had their united practice of the law impressed 
itself upon their features. 

"Good-day, Mr Tempest," — said Mr Bentham—"! need 
scarcely say that we shall serve you as we served our late client, 


to the best of our ability. And in matters where advice may 
be pleasant or profitable, we may possibly be of use to you. 
May we ask whether you require any cash advances imme- 
diately ?" 

'* No, thank you" — I answered, feeling grateful to my friend 
Rimanez for having placed me in a perfectly independent 
position to confront these solicitors — '' I am amply pro- 

They seemed, I fancied, a trifle surprised at this, but were 
too discreet to offer any remark. They wrote down my ad- 
dress at the Grand Hotel, and sent their clerk to show me to 
the door. I gave this man half-a-sovereign to drink my health 
which he very cheerfully promised to do, — then I walked 
round by the Law Courts, trying to realize that I was not in 
a dizzy dream, but that I was actually and solidly, five times 
a millionaire. As luck would have it, in turning a corner I 
jostled up against a man coming the other way, the very pub- 
lisher who had returned me my rejected manuscript the day 

** Hullo !" he exclaimed stopping short. 

"Hullo!" I rejoined. 

" Where are you off to?" he went on — " Going to try and 
place that unlucky novel ? My dear boy, believe me it will 
never do as it is. . . ." 

" It will do, it shall do" — I said calmly — *'I am going to 
publish it myself. ' ' 

He started. ''Publish it yourself! Good heavens! — it 
will cost you — ah ! — sixty or seventy, perhaps a hundred 

" I don't care if it costs me a thousand !" 

A red flush came into his face, and his eyes opened in 

''I thought . . . excuse me . . ." he stammered awk- 
wardly, '' I thought money was scarce with you " 

'' It was," I answered drily — " It isn't now." 

Then, his utterly bewildered look, together with the whole 



topsy-turviness of things in my altered position, struck me so 
forcibly that I burst out laughing, wildly and with a prolonged 
noise and violence that apparently alarmed him, for he began 
looking nervously about him in all directions as if meditating 
flight. I caught him by the arm. 

" Look here man," I said, trying to conquer my almost hys- 
terical mirth — *' I'm not mad — don't you think it, — I'm only 
a — millionaire !" And I began laughing again ; the situation 
seemed to me so sublimely ridiculous. But the worthy pub- 
lisher did not see it at all — and his features expressed so much 
genuine alarm that I made a further effort to control myself 
and succeeded. '' I assure you on my word of honour I'm 
not joking — it's a fact. Last night I wanted a dinner, and 
you like a good fellow offered to give me one, — to-day I 
possess five millions of money ! Don't stare so ! don't have 
a fit of apoplexy ! And as I have told you, I shall publish 
my book myself at my own expense, and it shall succeed. 
Oh I'm in earnest, grim earnest, grim as death ! — I've more than 
enough in my pocket book to pay for its publication now .^" 

I loosed my hold of him, and he fell back stupefied and 

"God bless my soul!" he muttered feebly — "It's like a 
dream ! — I was never more astonished in my life !" 

" Nor I !" I said, another temptation to laughter threaten- 
ing my composure, — " But strange things happen in life as 
in fiction. And that book which the builders — I mean the 
readers — rejected, shall be the headstone of the corner — or 
— the success of the season. What will you take to bring it 

"Take? I? I bring it out ?" 

"Yes, you — why not? If I offer you a chance to turn an 
honest penny, shall your paid pack of * readers' prevent your 
accepting it ? Fie ! you are not a slave, — this is a free 
country. I know the kind of people who ' read' for you, — 
the gaunt unlovable spinster of fifty, — the dyspeptic book- 
worm who is a ' literary failure' and can find nothing else to 


do but scrawl growling comments on the manuscript of 
promising work, — why in heaven's name should you rely on 
such incompetent opinion? I'll pay you for the publication 
of my book at as stiff a price as you choose and something 
over for good-will. And I guarantee you another thing — it 
shall not only make my name as an author, but yours as a 
publisher. I'll advertise royally, and I'll work the press. 
Everything in this world can be done for money ..." 

''Stop, stop," — he interrupted. — "This is so sudden! 
You must let me think of it — you must give me time to con- 
sider " 

" Take a day for your meditations then," I said — '' But no 
longer. For if you don't say yes I'll get another man, and 
he'll have the big pickings instead of you. Be wise in time, 
my friend ! — good-day!" 

He ran after me. 

" Stay, — look here ! You're so strange, so wild — so erratic 
you know ! Your head seems quite turned !" 

''It is ! The right way round this time !" 

" Dear dear me," and he smiled benevolently — "Why you 
don't give me a chance to congratulate you. I really do, you 
know — I congratulate you sincerely !" And he shook me by 
the hand quite fervently. "And as regards the book, I 
believe there was really no fault found with it in the matter 
of literary style or quality, — it was simply too — too tran- 
scendental, and unlikely therefore to suit the public taste. 
The Domestic-Iniquity line is what we find pays best at 
present. But I will think about it — where will a letter find 

"Grand Hotel," I responded i«wardly amused at his puz- 
zled and anxious expression — I knew he was already mentally 
calculating how much he could make out of me in the pursuit 
of my literary whim — " Come there and lunch or dine with 
me to morrow if you like — only send me a word beforehand. 
Reniember, I give you just a day's grace to decide, — it must 
be yes or no in twenty-four hours ! ' ' 


And with this I left him, staring vaguely after me like a 
man who has seen some nameless wonder drop out of the sky 
at his feet. I went on, laughing to myself inaudibly, till I 
saw one or two passers by looking at me so surprisedly, that I 
came to the conclusion that I must put a disguise on my 
thoughts if I would not be taken for a madman. I walked 
briskly, and presently my excitement cooled down. I resumed 
the normal condition of the phlegmatic Englishman, who 
considers it the height of bad form to display any personal 
emotion whatever, and I occupied the rest of the morning in 
purchasing some ready-made apparel, which by unusual good 
luck happened to fit me, and also in giving an extensive, not 
to say extravagant order to a fashionable tailor in Sackville 
Street who promised me everything with punctuality and de- 
spatch. I next sent off the rent I owed to the landlady of 
my former lodgings, adding five pounds extra by way of recog- 
nition of the poor woman's long patience in giving me credit, 
and general kindness towards me during my stay in her dismal 
house, — and this done, I returned to the Grand in high spirits, 
looking and feeling very much the better for my ready-made 
outfit. A waiter met me in the corridor, and with the most 
obsequious deference, informed me that ' his Excellency the 
prince' was waiting luncheon for me in his own apartments. 
Thither I repaired at once, and found my new friend alone in his 
sumptuous drawing-room, standing near the full light of the 
largest window and holding in his hand an oblong crystal case 
through which he was looking with an almost affectionate 

"Ah, Geoffrey! Here you are!" he exclaimed — ''I im- 
agined you would get thropgh your business by lunch time, so 
I waited." 

"Very good of you !" I said, pleased at the friendly famili- 
arity he displayed in thus calling me by my Christian name — 
" What have you got there?" 

"A pet of mine" — he answered, smiling slightly — "Did 
you ever see anything like it before?" 



I APPROACHED and examined the box he held. It was per- 
forated with finely drilled holes for the admission of air, and 
within it lay a brilliant winged insect coloured with all the 
tints and half-tints of the rainbow. 

''Is it alive?" I asked. 

*'It is alive, and has a sufficient share of intelligence," — 
replied Rimanez. " I feed it, and it knows me, — that is the 
utmost you can say of the most civilized human beings ; they 
know what feeds them. It is quite tame and friendly as you 
perceive," — and opening the case he gently advanced his fore- 
finger. The glittering beetle's body palpitated with the hues 
of an opal, its radiant wings expanded, and it rose at once 
to its protector's hand and clung there. He lifted it out 
and held it aloft, then shaking it to and fro lightly, he ex- 
claimed — 

'' Off, Sprite ! Fly, and return to me !" 

The creature soared away through the room, and round and 
round the ceiling, looking like a beautiful iridescent jewel, 
the whirr of its wings making a faint buzzing sound as it 
flew. I watched it fascinated, till after a few graceful move- 
ments hither and thither, it returned to its owner's still out- 
stretched hand, and again settled there, making no further 
attempt to fly. 

*' There is a well-worn platitude which declares that ' in the 
midst of life we are in death,' " — said the prince then softly, 
bending his dark deep eyes on the insect's quivering wings — 
*' But as a matter of fact that maxim is wrong as so many trite 
human maxims are. It should be ' in the midst of death we 
are in life.' This creature is a rare and curious production 
of death, but not I believe the only one of its kind. Others 
have been found under precisely similar circumstances. I 


took possession of this one myself in rather a weird fashion, 
— will the story bore you ?" 

''On the contrary," — I rejoined eagerly, my eyes fixed 
on the radiant bat-shaped thing that glittered in the light as 
though its veins were phosphorescent. 

He paused a moment, watching me. 

" Well, — it happened simply thus, — I was present at the 
uncasing of an Egyptian female mummy ; — her talismans 
described her as a princess of a famous royal house. Several 
curious jewels were tied round her neck, and on her chest was 
a piece of beaten gold quarter of an inch thick. Underneath 
this gold plate, her body was swathed round and round in an 
unusual number of scented wrappings ; and when these were 
removed it was discovered that the mummified flesh between 
her breasts had decayed away, and in the hollow or nest thus 
formed by the process of decomposition, this insect I hold, was 
found alive, as brilliant in colour as it is now." 

I could not repress a slight nervous shudder. 

''Horrible!" I said — "I confess, if I were you, I should 
not care to make a pet of such an uncanny object. I should 
kill it, I think." 

He kept his bright intent gaze upon me. 

"Why?" he asked. "I'm afraid, my dear Geoffrey, you 
are not disposed to study science. To kill the poor thing who 
managed to find life in the very bosom of death, is a cruel 
suggestion, is it not? To me, this unclassified insect is a 
valuable proof (if I needed one) of the indestructibility of 
the germs of conscious existence ; it has eyes, and the senses 
of taste, smell, touch and hearing, — and it gained these, to- 
gether with its intelligence, out of the dead flesh of a woman 
who lived, and no doubt loved and sinned and suffered, more 
than four thousand years ago !" He broke off, — then sud- 
denly added — "All the same I frankly admit to you that I 
believe it to be an evil creature. I do indeed ! But I like it 
none the less for that. In fact I have rather a fantastic notion 
about it myself. I am much inclined to accept the idea of the 


transmigration of souls, and so I please my humour sometimes 
by thinking that perhaps the princess of that Royal Egyptian 
house had a wicked, brilliant, vampire soul, — and that .... 
here it is /' ' 

A cold thrill ran through me from head to foot at these 
words, and as I looked at the speaker standing opposite me 
in the wintry light, dark and tall, with the ' wicked, brilliant, 
vampire soul' clinging to his hand, there seemed to me to be 
a sudden hideousness declared in his excessive personal beauty. 
I was conscious of a vague terror ; but I attributed it to the 
gruesome nature of the story, and, determining to combat my 
sensations, I examined the weird insect more closely. As I 
did so, its bright beady eyes sparkled, I thought, vindictively, 
and I stepped back, vexed with myself at the foolish fear of 
the thing which overpowered me. 

*' It is certainly remarkable," — I murmured — '' No wonder 
you value it, — as a curiosity. Its eyes are quite distinct, 
almost intelligent in fact." 

^' No doubt she had beautiful eyes," — said Rimanez smiling. 

*' She ? Whom do you mean ?" 

*' The princess, of course !" he answered, evidently amused ; 
*' The dear dead lady, — some of whose personality must be in 
this creature, seeing that it had nothing but her body to 
nourish itself upon." 

And here he replaced the creature in its crystal habitation 
with the utmost care. 

"I suppose" — I said slowly, ''you, in your pursuit of 
science, would infer from this, that nothing actually perishes 
completely ?" 

'' Exactly !" returned Rimanez emphatically. *' There, my 
dear Tempest, is the mischief, — or the deity, — of things. 
Nothing can be entirely annihilated ; — not even a thought." 

I was silent, watching him while he put the glass case with 
its uncanny occupant away out of sight. 

''And now for luncheon," he said gaily, passing his arm 
through mine — " You look twenty per cent, better than when 


you went out this morning, Geoffrey, so I conclude your legal 
matters are disposed of satisfactorily. And what else have you 
done with yourself?" 

Seated at table with the dark-faced Amiel in attendance, I 
related my morning's adventures, dwelling at length on my 
chance meeting with the publisher who had on the previous 
day refused my manuscript, and who now, I felt sure, would 
be only too glad to close with the offer I had made him. 
Rimanez listened attentively, smiling now and then. 

'' Of course !" he said, when I had concluded. '' There is 
nothing in the least surprising in the conduct of the worthy 
man. In fact I think he showed remarkable discretion and 
decency in not at once jumping at your proposition, — his 
pleasant hypocrisy in retiring to think it over shows him to 
be a person of tact and foresight. Did you ever imagine 
that a human being or a human conscience existed that could 
not be bought ? My good fellow, you can buy a king if you 
only give a long price enough ; and the Pope will sell you a 
specially reserved seat in his heaven if you will only hand him 
the cash down while he is on earth ! Nothing is given free in 
this world save the air and the sunshine, — everything else must 
be bought, — with blood, tears and groans occasionally, — but 
oftenest with money." 

I fancied that Amiel, behind his master's chair, smiled 
darkly at this, — and my instinctive dislike of the fellow kept 
me more or less reticent concerning my affairs till the luncheon 
was over. I could not formulate to myself any substantial 
reason for my aversion to this confidential servant of the 
prince's, — but do what I would, the aversion remained, and 
increased each time I saw his sullen, and as I thought, sneer- 
ing features. Yet he was perfectly respectful and deferential ; 
I could find no actual fault with him, — nevertheless when at 
last he placed the coffee, cognac, and cigars on the table and 
noiselessly withdrew, I was conscious of a great relief, and 
breathed more freely. As soon as we were alone, Rimanez 
lit a cigar and settled himself for a smoke, looking over at me 


with a personal interest and kindness which made his hand- 
some face more than ever attractive. 

*' Now let us talk" — he said — " I believe I am at present the 
best friend you have, and I certainly know the world better 
than you do. What do you propose to make of your life ? 
Or in other words how do you mean to begin spending your 

I laughed. "Well I shan't provide funds for the building 
of a church, or the endowment of a hospital" — I said — "I 
shall not even start a Free Library, for these institutions, 
besides becoming centres for infectious diseases, generally 
get presided over by a committee of local grocers who pre- 
sume to consider themselves judges of literature. My dear 
Prince Rimanez, I mean to spend my money on my own 
pleasure, and I daresay I shall find plenty of ways to do it." 

Rimanez fanned away the smoke of his cigar with one hand, 
and his dark eyes shone with a peculiarly vivid light through 
the pale grey floating haze. 

" With your fortune, you could make hundreds of miserable 
people happy," — he suggested. 

"Thanks, I would rather be happy myself first," — I an- 
swered gaily — " I daresay I seem to you selfish, — you are phil- 
anthropic I know; I am not." 

He still regarded me steadily. 

" You might help your fellow-workers in literature. ..." 

I interrupted him with a decided gesture. 

"That I will never do, my friend, though the heavens 
should crack ! My fellow- workers in literature have kicked 
me down at every opportunity, and done their best to keep 
me from earning a bare livelihood, — it is my turn at kicking 
now, and I will show them as little mercy, as little help, as 
little sympathy as they have shown me ! " 

" Revenge is sweet !" he quoted sententiously — " I should 
recommend your starting a high-class half-crown magazine." 


"Can you ask? Just think of the ferocious satisfaction it 



would give you to receive the manuscripts of your literary 
enemies, and reject them ! To throw their letters into the 
waste-paper basket, and send back their poems, stories, politi- 
cal articles and what not, with ' Returned with thanks'' or ^ Not 
up to our mark' type-written on the backs thereof ! To dig 
knives into your rivals through the medium of anonymous 
criticism ! The howling joy of a savage with twenty scalps 
at his belt would be tame in comparison to it ! I was an editor 
once myself, and I know !" 

I laughed at his whimsical earnestness. 

*' I daresay you are right" — I said — '' I can grasp the venge- 
ful position thoroughly ! But the management of a maga- 
zine would be too much trouble to me, — too much of a 

^^ Don't manage it! Follow the example of all the big 
editors, and live out of the business altogether, — but take the 
profits ! You never see the real editor of a leading daily news- 
paper you know, — you can only interview the sub. The real 
man is, according to the seasons of the year, at Ascot, in Scot- 
land, at Newmarket, or wintering in Egypt, — he is supposed 
to be responsible for everything in his journal, but he is gen- 
erally the last person who knows anything about it. He relies 
on his * staff' — a very bad crutch at times, — and when his 
* staff are in a difficulty, they get out of it by saying they are 
unable to decide without the editor. Meanwhile the editor is 
miles away, comfortably free from worry. You could bam- 
boozle the public in that way if you liked." 

"■ I could, but I shouldn't care to do so," I answered — "■ If 
I had a business, I would not neglect it. I believe in doing 
things thoroughly." 

" So do I !" responded Rimanez promptly. '*I am a very 
thorough-going fellow myself, and whatever my hand findeth 
to do, I do it with my might ! — excuse me for quoting Scrip- 
ture!" He smiled, a little ironically I thought, then re- 
sumed — ''Well, in what, at present does your idea of enjoy- 
ing your heritage consist ?" 


*' In publishing my book," I answered. '' That very book 
I could get no one to accept, — I tell you, I will make it the 
talk of London !" 

" Possibly you will" — he said, looking at me through half- 
closed eyes and a cloud of smoke, — "London easily talks. 
Particularly on unsavoury and questionable subjects. There- 
fore, — as I have already hinted, — if your book were a judi- 
cious mixture of Zola, Huysmans and Baudelaire, or had 
for its heroine a * modest' maid who considered honourable 
marriage a ' degradation,' it would be quite sure of success in 
these days of new Sodom and Gomorrah." Here he sud- 
denly sprang up, and flinging away his cigar, confronted me. 
" Why do not the heavens rain fire on this accursed city ! It 
is ripe for punishment, — full of abhorrent creatures not worth 
the torturing in hell to which it is said liars and hypocrites 
are condemned ! Tempest, if there is one human being more 
than another that I utterly abhor, it is the type of man so 
common to the present time, the man who huddles his own 
loathly vices under a cloak of assumed broad-mindedness and 
virtue. Such an one will even deify the loss of chastity in 
woman by the name of ' purity,' — because he knows that it is 
by her moral and physical ruin alone that he can gratify his 
brutal lusts. Rather than be such a sanctimonious coward, I 
would openly proclaim myself vile." 

"That is because yours is a noble nature" — I said — "You 
are an exception to the rule." 

"An exception? I?" — and he laughed bitterly — "Yes, 
you are right ; I am an exception among men perhaps, — but 
I am one with the beasts, — in honesty ! The lion does not 
assume the manners of the dove, — he loudly announces his 
own ferocity. The very cobra, stealthy though its move- 
ments be, evinces its meaning by a warning hiss or rattle. 
The hungry wolf's bay is heard far down the wind, intimi- 
dating the hurrying traveller among the wastes of snow. 
But man gives no clue to his intent — more malignant than 
the lion, more treacherous than the snake, more greedy than 


the wolf, he takes his fellow-man's hand in pretended friend- 
ship, and an hour later defames his character behind his 
back, — with a smiling face he hides a false and selfish heart, 
— flinging his pigmy mockery at the riddle of the Universe, 
he stands gibing at God, feebly a-straddle on his own earth- 
grave — Heavens!" — here he stopped short with a passionate 
gesture — ''What should the Eternities do with such a thank- 
less, blind worm as he ! " 

His voice rang out with singular emphasis, — his eyes 
glowed with a fiery ardour ; startled by his impressive manner 
I let my cigar die out and stared at him in mute amazement. 
What an inspired countenance ! — what an imposing figure ! — 
how sovereignly supreme and almost god -like in his looks he 
seemed at the moment; — and yet there was something terri- 
fying in his attitude of protest and defiance. He caught my 
wondering glance, — the glow of passion faded from his face, 
— he laughed and shrugged his shoulders. 

'' I think I was born to be an actor" — he said carelessly — 
** Now and then the love of declamation masters me. Then 
I speak — as Prime Ministers and men in Parliament speak — 
to suit the humour of the hour, and without meaning a single 
word I say ! ' ' 

" I cannot accept that statement," — I answered him, smiling 
a little — ** You do mean what you say, — though I fancy you 
are rather a creature of impulse." 

" Do you really!" he exclaimed — ''How wise of you! — 
good Geoffrey Tempest, how very wise of you ! But you 
are wrong. There never was a being created who was less 
impulsive, or more charged with set purpose than I. Be- 
lieve me or not as you like, — belief is a sentiment that cannot 
be forced. If I told you that I am a dangerous companion, 
— that I like evil things better than good, — that I am not a 
safe guide for any man, what would you think?" 

"I should think you were whimsically fond of underesti- 
mating your own qualities" — I said, re-lighting my cigar, and 
feeling somewhat amused by his earnestness — "And I should 


like you just as well as I do now, — perhaps better, — though 
that would be difficult." 

At these words, he seated himself, bending his steadfast dark 
eyes full upon me. 

'^ Tempest, you follow the fashion of the prettiest women 
about town, — they always like the greatest scoundrels !" 

" But you are not a scoundrel" — I rejoined, smoking peace- 

" No, — I'm not a scoundrel, but there's a good deal of the 
devil in me." 

''AH the better !" I said, stretching myself out in my chair 
with lazy comfort — '' I hope there's something of him in me 

" Do you believe in him?" asked Rimanez smiling. 

''The devil? of course not." 

" He is a very fascinating legendary personage" — continued 
the prince, lighting another cigar and beginning to puff at it 
slowly — " and he is the subject of many a fine story. Picture 
his fall from heaven ! — 'Lucifer, Son of the Morning' — what 
a title, and what a birthright ! To be born of the morning 
implies to be a creature formed of translucent light undefiled, 
with all the warm rose of a million orbs of day colouring his 
bright essence, and all the lustre of fiery planets flaming in 
his eyes. Splendid and supreme, at the right hand of Deity 
itself he stood, this majestic Arch-angel, and before his un- 
wearied vision rolled the grandest creative splendours of God's 
thoughts and dreams. All at once he perceived in the vista 
of embryonic things a new small world, and on it a being 
forming itself slowly as it were into the Angelic likeness, — a 
being weak yet strong, sublime yet foolish, — a strange para- 
dox, destined to work its way through all the phases of life, 
till imbibing the very breath and soul of the Creator it should 
touch Conscious Immortality, — Eternal Joy. Then Lucifer, 
full of wrath, turned on the Master of the Spheres, and flung 
forth his reckless defiance, crying aloud — ' Wilt thou make of 
this slight poor creature an Angel even as I ? I do protest 
e 6* 


against thee and condemn ! Lo, if thou makest Man in Our 
image I will destroy him utterly, as unfit to share with me the 
splendours of Thy Wisdom, — the glory of Thy love !' And 
the Voice Supreme, in accents terrible and beautiful replied — 
' Lucifer, Son of the Morning, full well dost thou know that 
never can an idle or wasted word be spoken before Me. For 
Free-will is the gift of the Immortals ; therefore what thou 
sayest, thou must needs do ! Fall, proud Spirit from thy high 
estate ! — thou and thy companions with thee ! — and return no 
more till Man himself redeem thee ! Each human soul that 
yields unto thy tempting shall be a new barrier set between 
thee and heaven ; each one that of its own choice doth repel 
and overcome thee, shall lift thee nearer thy lost home ! When 
the world rejects thee, I will pardon and again receive thee, — ■ 
but not till thefi.' " 

" I never heard exactly that version of the legend before," 
— I said, — "The idea that Man should redeem the devil is 
quite new to me. ' ' , 

**Is it?" and he looked at me fixedly — ''W^ell — it is one 
form of the story, and by no means the most unpoetical. 
Poor Lucifer ! His punishment is of course eternal, and the 
distance between himself and Heaven must be rapidly increas- 
ing every day, — for Man will never assist him to retrieve his 
error. Man will reject God fast enough and gladly enough 
— but never the devil. Judge then, how, under the peculiar 
circumstances of his doom, this ' Lucifer, Son of the Morning,' 
Satan, or whatever else he is called, must hate Humanity !" 

I smiled. ''Well he has one remedy left to him" — I ob- 
served — " He need not tempt anybody." 

"You forget ! — he is bound to keep his word, according to 
the legend," — said Rimanez — " He swore before God that he 
would destroy Man utterly, — he must therefore fulfil that oath, 
if he can. Angels, it would seem, may not swear before the 
Eternal without endeavouring at least to fulfil their vows, — 
men swear in the name of God every day without the slightest 
intention of carrying out their promises." 


"But it's all the veriest nonsense" — I said somewhat im- 
patiently — ''All these old legends are rubbish. You tell the 
story well, and almost as if you believed in it, — that is because 
you have the gift of speaking with eloquence, Now-a-days no 
one believes in either devils or angels ; — I, for example, do 
not even believe in the soul," 

'' I know you do not" — he answered suavely — ''And your 
scepticism is very comfortable because it relieves you of all 
personal responsibility, I envy you ! For — I regret to say, I 
am compelled to believe in the soul," 

"Compelled!" I echoed — "That is absurd — no one can 
compel you to accept a mere theory." 

He looked at me with a flitting smile that darkened rather 
than lightened his face. 

"True! very true ! There is no compelling force in the 
whole Universe, — Man is the supreme and independent 
creature, — master of all he surveys and owning no other 
dominion save his personal desire. True — I forgot ! Let us 
avoid theology, please, and psychology also, — let us talk 
about the only subject that has any sense or interest in it — 
namely, Money. I perceive your present plans are definite, 
— you wish to publish a book that shall create a stir and make 
you famous. It seems a modest enough campaign ! Have 
you no wider ambitions ? There are several ways, you know, 
of getting talked about. Shall I enumerate them for your 

I laughed. "If you like!" 

" Well, in the first place I should suggest your getting your- 
self properly paragraphed. It must be known to the press 
that you are an exceedingly rich man. There is an Agency 
for the circulation of paragraphs, — I daresay they'll do it 
sufficiently well for about ten or twenty guineas." 

I opened my eyes a little at this. 

" Oh, is that the way these things are done?" 

"My dear fellow how else should they be done?" he de- 
manded somewhat impatiently — "Do you think anything in 


the world is done without money? Are the poor, hardwork- 
ing journalists your brothers or your bosom friends that they 
should lift you into public notice without getting something 
for their trouble? If you do not manage them properly in 
this way, they'll abuse you quite heartily and free of cost, — 
that I can promise you! I know a 'literary agent,' a very 
worthy man too, who for a hundred guineas down, will so ply 
the paragraph wheel that in a few weeks it shall seem to the 
outside public that Geoffrey Tempest, the millionaire, is the 
only person worth talking about, and the one desirable crea- 
ture whom to shake hands with is next in honour to meeting 
Royalty itself." 

*' Secure him !" I said indolently — '' And pay him two hun- 
dred guineas ! So shall all the world hear of me !" 

*' When you have been paragraphed thoroughly," went on 
Rimanez — " the next move will be a dash into what is called 
' swagger' society. This must be done cautiously and by de- 
grees. You must be presented at the first Levee of the season, 
and later on, I will get you an invitation to some great lady's 
house, where you will meet the Prince of Wales privately at 
dinner. If you can oblige or please His Royal Highness in 
any way, so much the better for you, — he is at least the most 
popular among royal personages, — so it should not be difficult 
to you to make yourself agreeable. Following upon this event, 
you must purchase a fine country seat, and have that fact * para- 
graphed' — then you can rest and look round, — Society will 
have taken you up, and you will find yourself in the swim." 

I laughed heartily, — well entertained by his fluent discourse. 

** I should not," he resumed — '' propose your putting your- 
self to the trouble of getting into Parliament. That is no 
longer necessary to the career of a gentleman. But I should 
strongly recommend your winning the Derby." 

'' I daresay you would !" I answered mirthfully — '^ It's an 
admirable suggestion, — but not very easy to follow !" 

'' If you wish to win the Derby," he rejoined quietly — '' you 
shall win it. I'll guarantee both horse and jockey." 


Something in his decisive tone impressed me, and I leaned 
forward to study his features more closely. 

*' Are you a worker of miracles !" I asked him jestingly — 
*' Do you mean it?" 

" Try me !" he responded — " Shall I enter a horse for you?" 

"If it is not too late, and you like to do so" — I said—" I 
leave it in your hands. But I must tell you frankly I don't 
take much interest in racing matters. ' ' 

''You will have to amend your taste then" — he replied — 
"That is if you want to make yourself agreeable to the Eng- 
lish aristocracy, for they are interested in little else. No 
really great lady is without her betting book, though she may 
be deficient in her knowledge of spelling. You may make 
the biggest literary /z/r^rt- of the season, and that will count 
as nothing among * swagger' people, but if you win the Derby 
you will be a really famous man. Personally speaking I have 
a great deal to do with racing, — in fact I am devoted to it. 
I am always present at every great race, — I never miss one ; 
I always bet, and I never lose ! And now let me proceed 
with your social plan of action. After winning the Derby 
you will enter for a yacht race at Cowes, and allow the Prince 
of Wales to beat you just narrowly. Then you will give a 
grand dinner, arranged by a perfect chef, — and you will enter- 
tain His Royal Highness to the strains of ' Britannia rules the 
waves,' which will serve as a pretty compliment. You will 
allude to the same well-worn song in a graceful speech, — and 
the probable result of all this will be one, or perhaps two 
Royal invitations. So far, so good. With the heats of 
summer you will go to Homburg to drink the waters there 
whether you require them or not, — and in the autumn you 
will assemble a shooting-party at the country seat before- 
mentioned, which you will have purchased, and invite Roy- 
alty to join you in killing the poor little partridges. Then 
your name in society may be considered as made, and you 
can marry whatever fair lady happens to be in the market !" 

"Thanks! — much obliged!" and I gave way to hearty 


laughter — " Upon my word Lucio, your programme is per- 
fect ! It lacks nothing !" 

'*It is the orthodox round of social success," said Lucio 
with admirable gravity — *' Intellect and originality have 
nothing whatever to do with it, — only money is needed to 
perform it all." 

"You forget my book" — I interposed — "I know there is 
some intellect in that, and some originality too. Surely that 
will give me an extra lift up the heights of fashionable light 
and leading." 

'' I doubt it !" — he answered — '' I very much doubt it. It 
will be received with a certain amount of favour of course, as 
the production of a rich man amusing himself with litera- 
ture by way of whim. But, as I told you before, genius 
seldom develops itself under the influence of wealth. Then 
again ' swagger' folks can never get it out of their fuddled 
heads that Literature belongs to Grub Street. Great poets, 
great philosophers, great romancists are always vaguely 
alluded to by 'swagger' society as 'those sort of people.' 
Those sort of people are so ' interesting' say the blue- 
blooded noodles deprecatingly, excusing themselves as it 
w^ere for knowing any members of the class literary. You 
can fancy a ' swagger' lady of Elizabeth's time asking a 
friend — ' O do you mind, my dear, if I bring one Master 
William Shakespeare to see you? He writes plays, and 
does something or other at the Globe theatre, — in fact I'm 
afraid he acts a little — he's not very well off poor man, — 
but those so7't of people are always so amusing!' Now you, 
my dear Tempest, are not a Shakespeare, but your millions 
will give you a better chance than he ever had in his life- 
time, as you will not have to sue for patronage, or practise a 
reverence for 'my lord' or 'my lady,' — these exalted person- 
ages will be only too delighted to borrow money of you if 
you will lend it, ' ' 

" I shall not lend,"— I said. 

"Nor give?" 


*' Nor give." 

His keen eyes flashed approval. 

" I am very glad" he observed — " that you are determined 
not to ' go about doing good' as the canting humbugs say, with 
your money. You are wise. Spend on yourself, — because 
your very act of spending cannot but benefit others through 
various channels. Now I pursue a diff'erent course. I always 
help charities, and put my name on subscription-lists, — and I 
never fail to assist the clergy. ' ' 

"I rather wonder at that" — I remarked — " Especially as 
you tell me you are not a Christian." 

''Yes, — it does seem strange, — doesn't it?" — he said with 
an extraordinary accent of what might be termed apologetic 
derision — ''But perhaps you don't look at it in the proper 
light. The clergy are doing their utmost best to destroy 
religion, — by cant, by hypocrisy, by sensuality, by shams of 
every description, — and when they seek my help in this 
noble work, I give it, — freely !" 

I laughed. " You must have your joke evidently" — I said, 
throwing the end of my finished cigar into the fire — "And 
I see you are fond of satirizing your own good actions. 
Hullo, what's this?" 

For at that moment Amiel entered, bearing a telegram for 
me on a silver salver. I opened it, — it was from my friend 
the publisher, and ran as follows — 

"Accept book with pleasure. Send manuscript immedi- 

I showed this to Rimanez with a kind of triumph. He 

"Of course! what else did you expect? Only the man 
should have worded his telegram differently, for I do not 
suppose he would accept the book with pleasure if he had 
to lay out his own cash upon it. ' Accept money for 
publishing book with pleasure' should have been the 
true message of the wire. Well, what are you going to 


''I shall see about this at once" — I answered, feeling 
a thrill of satisfaction that at last the time of vengeance 
on certain of my enemies was approaching — "The book 
must be hurried through the press as quickly as possible, — 
and I shall take a particular pleasure in personally attend- 
ing to all the details concerning it. For the rest of my 
plans ' ' 

''Leave them to me!" said Rimanez laying his finely 
shaped white hand with a masterful pressure on my shoulder ; 
''Leave them to me! — and be sure that before very long I 
shall have set you aloft like the bear who has successfully 
reached the bun on the top of a greased pole, — -a spectacle 
for the envy of men, and the wonder of angels ! ' ' 


The next three or four weeks flew by in a whirl of excite- 
ment, and by the time they were ended, I found it hard to 
recognize myself in the indolent, listless, extravagant man of 
fashion I had so suddenly become. Sometimes at stray and 
solitary moments the past turned back upon me like a revolving 
picture in a glass with a flash of unwelcome recollection, and 
I saw myself worn and hungry, and shabbily clothed, bending 
over my writing in my dreary lodging, wretched, yet amid 
all my wretchedness receiving curious comfort from my own 
thoughts, which created beauty out of penury, and love out 
of loneliness. This creative faculty was now dormant in me, 
— I did very little and thought less. But I felt certain that 
this intellectual apathy was but a passing phase, — a mental 
holiday and desirable cessation from brain-work to which I 
was deservedly entitled after all my sufferings at the hands 
of poverty and disappointment. My book was nearly through 
the press, — and perhaps the chiefest pleasure of any I now 
enjoyed was the correction of the proofs as they passed under 
my supervision. Yet even this, the satisfaction of authorship. 


had its drawback, — and my particular grievance was some- 
what singular. I read my own work with gratification of 
course, for I was not behind my contemporaries in thinking well 
of myself in all I did, — but my complacent literary egoism was 
mixed with a good deal of disagreeable astonishment and in- 
credulity, because my work, written with enthusiasm and feel- 
ing, propounded sentiments and inculcated theories which I 
personally did not believe in. Now, how had this happened, I 
asked myself? Why had I thus invited the public to accept me 
at a false valuation ? I paused to consider, — and I found the 
suggestion puzzling. How came I to write the book at all, 
seeing that it was utterly unlike me as I now knew myself? 
My pen, consciously or unconsciously, had written down 
things which my reasoning faculties entirely repudiated, — 
such as belief in a God, — trust in the eternal possibilities of 
man's diviner progress, — I credited neither of these doctrines. 
When I imagined such transcendental and foolish dreams I 
was poor, — starving,— and without a friend in the world; — 
remembering all this, I promptly set down my so-called ' inspi- 
ration' to the action of an ill-nourished brain. Yet there was 
something subtle in the teaching of the story ; and one after- 
noon when I was revising some of the last proof sheets I 
caught myself thinking that the book was nobler than its 
writer. This idea smote me with a sudden pang, — I pushed 
my papers aside, and walking to the window, looked out. It 
was raining hard, and the streets were black with mud and 
slush, — the foot-passengers were drenched and miserable, — 
the whole prospect was dreary, and the fact that I was a rich 
man did not in the least lift from my mind the depression that 
had stolen on me unawares. I was quite alone, for I had my 
own suite of rooms now in the hotel, not far from those occu- 
pied by Prince Rimanez ; I also had my own servant, a respect- 
able, good sort of fellow whom I rather liked because he 
shared to the full the instinctive aversion I felt for the prince's 
man, Amiel. Then I had my own carriage and horses with 
attendant coachman and groom, — so that the prince and I, 
D 7 


though the most intimate friends in the world, were able to 
avoid that ' familiarity which breeds contempt' by keeping up 
our own separate establishments. On this particular afternoon 
I was in a more miserable humour than ever my poverty had 
brought upon me, yet from a strictly reasonable point of view 
I had nothing to be miserable about. I was in full possession 
of my fortune, — I enjoyed excellent health, and I had every- 
thing I wanted, with the added consciousness that if my wants 
increased I could gratify them easily. The ' paragraph wheel' 
under Lucio's management had been worked with such good 
effect that I had seen myself mentioned in almost every paper 
in London and the provinces, as the 'famous millionaire,' — 
and for the benefit of the public, who are sadly uninstructed 
on these matters, I may here state as a very plain unvarnished 
truth, that for forty pounds,* a well-known * agency' will 
guarantee the insertion of any paragraph, provided it is not 
libellous, in no less than four hundred newspapers. The art 
of ' booming' is thus easily explained, and level-headed people 
will be able to comprehend why it is that a few names of 
authors are constantly mentioned in the press, while others, 
perhaps more deserving, remain ignored. Merit counts as 
nothing in such circumstances, — money wins the day. And 
the persistent paragraphing of my name, together with a 
description of my personal appearance and my * marvellous 
literary gifts,' combined with a deferential and almost awe- 
struck allusion to the ' millions' which made me so interesting 
— (the paragraph was written out by Lucio and handed for 
circulation to the 'agency' aforesaid with 'money down') — 
all this I say brought upon me two inflictions, — first, any 
amount of invitations to social and artistic functions, — and 
secondly, a continuous stream of begging-letters. I was com- 
pelled to employ a secretary, who occupied a room near my 
suite, and was kept hard at work all day. Needless to say I 
refused all appeals for money ; — no one had helped 7ne in my 

* A fact. 


distress, with the exception of my old chum ' Boffles,' — no one 
save he had given me even so much as a word of sympathy, — 
I was resolved now to be as hard and as merciless as I had 
found my contemporaries. I had a certain grim pleasure in 
reading letters from two or three literary men, asking for work 
*as secretary or companion,' or failing that, for the loan of a 
little cash to ' tide over present difficulties.' One of these 
applicants was a journalist on the staff of a well-known paper 
who had promised to find vie work, and who instead of doing 
so, had as I afterwards learned, strongly dissuaded his editor 
from giving me any employment. He never imagined that 
Tempest the millionaire, and Tempest the literary hack, were 
one and the same person, — so little do the majority think that 
wealth can ever fall to the lot of authors ! I wrote to him 
myself however, and told him what I deemed it well he should 
know, adding my sarcastic thanks for his friendly assistance 
to m^ in time of need, — and herein I tasted something of the 
sharp delight of vengeance. I never heard from him again, 
and I am pretty sure my letter gave him material not only for 
astonishment but meditation. 

Yet with all the advantages over both friends and enemies 
which I now possessed, I could not honestly say I was happy. 
I knew I could have every possible enjoyment and amuse- 
ment the world had to offer, — I knew I was one of the most 
envied among men, and yet, — as I stood looking out of the 
window at the persistently falling rain, I was conscious of a 
bitterness rather than a sweetness in the full cup of fortune. 
Many things that I had imagined would give me intense satis- 
faction had fallen curiously flat. For example, I had flooded 
the press with the most carefully worded and prominent adver- 
tisements of my forthcoming book, and when I was poor I 
had pictured to myself how I should revel in doing this, — 
now that it was done I cared nothing at all about it. I 
was simply weary of the sight of my own advertized name. 
I certainly did look forward with very genuine feeling 
and expectation to the publication of my work when that 


should be an accomplished fact, — but to-day even that idea 
had lost some of its attractiveness owing to this new and un- 
pleasant impression on my mind that the contents of that book 
were as utterly the reverse of my own true thoughts as they 
could well be. A fog began to darken down over the streets 
in company with the rain, — and disgusted with the weather 
and with myself, I turned away from the window and settled 
into an arm-chair by the fire, poking the coal till it blazed, 
and wondering what I should do to rid my mind of the 
gloom that threatened to envelop it in as thick a canopy as 
that of the London fog. A tap came at the door, and in an- 
swer to my somewhat irritable '' Come in !" Rimanez entered. 

''What, all in the dark. Tempest !" — he exclaimed cheer- 
fully — " Why don't you light up?" 

''The fire's enough" — I answered crossly — "Enough at 
any rate to think by." 

"And have you been thinking?" he inquired laughing — 
" Don't do it. It's a bad habit. No one thinks now-a-days, 
— people can't stand it, — their heads are too frail. Once 
begin to think, and down go the foundations of society, — 
besides thinking is always dull work." 

"I have found it so," I said gloomily — " Lucio, there is 
something wrong about me somewhere." 

His eyes flashed keen, half-amused inquiry into mine. 

" Wrong? Oh no, surely not? What can there be wrong 
about you, Tempest? Are you not one of the richest men 

I let the satire pass. 

" Listen, my friend," I said earnestly — " You know I have 
been busy for the last fortnight correcting the proofs of my 
book for the press, — do you not?" 

He nodded with a smiling air. 

" Well I have arrived almost at the end of my work and I 
have come to the conclusion that the book is not Me, — it is 
not a reflex of my feelings at all, — and I cannot understand 
how I came to write it." 


"You find it stupid perhaps?" said Lucio sympathetically. 

*' No," I answered with a touch of indignation — " I do not 
find it stupid." 

"Dull then?" 

"No,— it is not dull." 

" Melodramatic ?" 

"No, — not melodramatic." 

" Well, my good fellow, if it is not dull or stupid or melo- 
dramatic, what is it?" he exclaimed merrily — "It must be 
something !" 

"Yes, — it is this, — it is beyond me altogether." And I 
spoke with some bitterness. "Quite beyond me. I could 
not write it now, — I wonder I could wTite it then. Lucio, I 
daresay I am talking foolishly, — but it seems to me I must 
have been on some higher altitude of thought when I wrote 
the book, — a height from which I have since fallen." 

"I'm sorry to hear this," he answered with twinkling eyes 
— " From what you say it appears to me you have been guilty 
of literary sublimity. Oh bad, very bad ! Nothing can be 
worse. To write sublimely is a grievous sin, and one which 
critics never forgive. I'm really grieved for you, my friend 
— I never thought your case was quite so desperate. ' ' 
. I laughed in spite of my depression. 

" You are incorrigible, Lucio !" I said — "But your cheer- 
fulness is very inspiriting. All I w^anted to explain to you is 
this, — that my book expresses a certain tone of thought which 
purporting to be inine^ is not me, — in short, I in my present 
self have no sympathy with it. I must have changed very 
much since I wrote it. ' ' 

"Changed? Why yes, I should think so!" and Lucio 
laughed heartily — "The possession of five millions is bound 
to change a man considerably for the better — or worse ! But 
you seem to be worrying yourself most absurdly about nothing. 
Not one author in many centuries writes from his own heart 
or as he truly feels — when he does, he becomes well-nigh 
immortal. This planet is too limited to hold more than one 



Homer, one Plato, one Shakespeare. Don't distress yourself — 
you are neither of these three ! You belong to the age, Tem- 
pest, — it is a decadent ephemeral age, and most things con- 
nected with it are decadent and ephemeral. Any era that is 
dominated by the love of money only, has a rotten core within 
it and must perish. All history tells us so, but no one accepts 
the lesson of history. Observe the signs of the time, — Art is 
made subservient to the love of money — literature, politics and 
religion the same,— jw^ cannot escape from the general disease. 
The only thing to do is to make the best of it,- — no one can 
reform it — least of all you, who have so much of the lucre 
given to your share." 

He paused, — I was silent, watching the bright fire-glow and 
the dropping red cinders. 

*' What I am going to say now," he proceeded in soft, al- 
most melancholy accents — "will sound ridiculously trite, — 
still it has the perverse prosiness of truth about it. It is this 
— in order to write with intense feelings, you must first feel. 
Very likely when you wrote this book of yours, you were al- 
most a human hedge-hog in the way of feeling. Every prickly 
point of you was erect and responsive to the touch of all influ- 
ences, pleasant or the reverse, imaginative or realistic. This 
is a condition which some people envy, and others would 
rather dispense with. Now that you, as a hedge-hog, have no 
further need for either alarm, indignation or self-defence, 
your prickles are soothed into an agreeable passiveness, and 
you partially cease to feel. That is all. The ' change' you 
complain of is thus accounted for ; — you have nothing to feel 
about, — hence you cannot comprehend how it was that you 
ever felt. ' ' 

I was conscious of irritation at the calm conviction of his 

" Do you take me for such a callous creature as all that?" 
I exclaimed — "You are mistaken in me, Lucio. I feel most 
keenly " 

"What do you feel?" he inquired, fixing his eyes steadily 


upon me — ''There are hundreds of starving wretches in this 
metropolis, — men and women on the brink of suicide because 
they have no hope of anything in this world or the next, and 
no sympathy from their kind — do you feel for them? Do 
their griefs affect you ? You know they do not, — you know 
you never think of them, — why should you? One pf the 
chief advantages of wealth is the ability it gives us to shut out 
other people's miseries from our personal consideration." 

I said nothing, — for the first time my spirit chafed at the 
truth of his words, principally because they were true. Alas, 
Lucio ! — if I had only known then what I know now ! 

"■ Yesterday," he went on in the same quiet voice — '' a child 
was run over here, just opposite this hotel. It was only 
a poor child, — mark that 'only.' Its mother ran shrieking 
out of some back-street hard by, in time to see the little 
bleeding body carted up in a mangled heap. She struck 
wildly with both hands at the men who were trying to lead 
her away, and with a cry like that of some hurt savage animal 
fell face forward in the mud — dead. She was only a poor 
woman, — another ' only.' There were three lines in the paper 
about it headed ' Sad Incident. ' The hotel porter here wit- 
nessed the scene from the door with as composed a demeanor as 
that of a fop at the play, never relaxing the serene majesty of 
his attitude, — but about ten minutes after the dead body of the 
woman had been carried out of sight, he, the imperial, gold- 
buttoned being, became almost crook-backed in his servile 
haste to run and open the door of your brougham, my dear 
Geoffrey, as. you drove up to the entrance. This is a little 
epitome of life as it is lived now-a days, — and yet the canting 
clerics swear we are all equal in the sight of heaven ! We 
may be, though it does not look much like it, — and if we are, 
it does not matter, as we have ceased to care how heaven re- 
gards us. I don't want to point a moral, — I simply tell you 
the ' sad incident' as it occurred, — and I am sure you are not 
the least sorry for the fate of either the child who was run 
over, or its mother who died in the sharp agony of a suddenly 


broken heart. Now don't say you are, because I know you're 

" How can one feel sorry for people one does not know or 
has never seen — " I began. 

" Exactly ! — How is it possible? And there we have it — 
how can one feel, when one's self is so thoroughly comfort- 
able as to be without any other feeling save that of material 
ease ? Thus, my dear Geoffrey, you must be content to let 
your book appear as the reflex and record of your past when 
you were in the prickly or sensitive stage, — now you are 
encased in a pachydermatous covering of gold which ade- 
quately protects you from such influences as might have made 
you start and writhe, perhaps even roar with indignation, and 
in the access of fierce torture, stretch out your hands and grasp 
— quite unconsciously — the winged thing called Fame." 

''You should have been an orator" — I said, rising and 
pacing the room to and fro in vexation, — ''But to me your 
words are not consoling, and I do not think they are true. 
Fame is easily enough secured." 

" Pardon me if I am obstinate ;" — said Lucio with a depre- 
catory gesture — " Notoriety is easily secured — very easily. A 
few critics who have dined with you and had their fill of wine, 
will give you notoriety. But fame is the voice of the whole 
civilized public of the world." 

"The public!" I echoed contemptuously — "The public 
only care for trash. ' ' 

" It is a pity you should appeal to it then" — he responded 
with a smile — " If you think so little of the public why give 
it anything of your brain ? It is not worthy of so rare a boon ! 
Come, come, Tempest, — do not join in the snarl of unsuccessful 
authors who take refuge, when marked unsalable, in pouring 
out abuse on the public. The public is the author's best friend 
and truest critic. But if you prefer to despise it in company 
with all the very little literature-mongers who form a mutual 
admiration society, I tell you what to do, — print just twenty 
copies of your book and present these to the leading review- 


ers, and when they have written you up (as they will do — I'll 
take care of that) let your publisher advertise to the effect 
that the ' First and Second Large Editions' of the new novel 
by Geoffrey Tempest, are exhausted, one hundred thousand 
copies having been sold in a week. If that does not waken 
up the world in general, I shall be much surprised." 

I laughed, — I was gradually getting into a better humour. 

*' It would be quite as fair a plan of action as is adopted by 
many modern publishers," I said — ''The loud hawking of lit- 
erary wares now-a-days reminds me of the rival shouting of 
costermongers in a low neighbourhood. But I will not go 
quite so far, — I'll win my fame legitimately if I can." 

"You can't!" declared Lucio with a serene smile — ''It's 
impossible. You are too rich. That of itself is not legitimate 
in Literature, — which great art generally elects to wear poverty 
in its button-hole as a flower of grace. The fight cannot be 
equal in such circumstances. The fact that you are a million- 
aire must weigh the balance apparently in your favour for a 
time. The world cannot resist money. If I, for example, 
became an author, I should probably with my wealth and in- 
fluence, burn up every one else's laurels. Suppose that a des- 
perately poor man comes out with a book at the same time as 
you do, he will have scarcely the ghost of a chance against 
you. He will not be able to advertise in your lavish style, — 
nor will he see his way to dine the critics as you can. And 
if he should happen to have more genius than you, and you 
succeed, your success will no^ be legitimate. But after all, 
that does not matter much — in Art, if in nothing else, things 
always right themselves. ' ' 

I made no immediate reply, but went over to my table, rolled 
up my corrected proofs and directed them to the printers, — 
then ringing the bell I gave the packet to my man, Morris, 
bidding him post it at once. This done, I turned again 
towards Lucio and saw that he still sat by the fire, but that his 
attitude was now one of brooding melancholy, and that he had 
covered his eyes with one hand on which the glow from the 


flames shone red. I regretted the momentary irritation I had 
felt against him for telling me unwelcome truths, — and I 
touched him lightly on the shoulder. 

^' Art you in the dumps now, Lucio?" I said — '' I'm afraid 
my depression has proved infectious." 

He moved his hand and looked up, — his eyes were large and 
lustrous as the eyes of a beautiful woman. 

*' I was thinking" he said, with a slight sigh — " of the last 
words I uttered just now, — things always right the?nselves. 
Curiously enough in art they always do, — no charlatanism or 
sham lasts with the gods of Parnassus. But in other matters 
it is different. For instance /shall never right myself ! Life 
is hateful to me at times, as it is to everybody." 

" Perhaps you are in love?" I said with a smile. 

He started up. 

*' In love ! By all the heavens and all the earths too, that 
suggestion wakes me with a vengeance ! In love ! What 
woman alive do you think could impress me with the notion 
that she was anything more than a frivolous doll of pink and 
white with long hair frequently not her own ? And as for the 
tom-boy tennis-players and giantesses of the era, I do not 
consider them women at all, — they are merely the unnatural 
embryos of a new sex which will be neither male nor female. 
My dear Tempest, I hate women. So would you if you knew 
as much about them as I do. They have made me what I am, 
and they keep me so. ' ' 

'' They are to be much complimented then," — I observed — 
'' You do them credit !" 

''I do !" he answered slowly — " In more ways than one !" 
A faint smile was on his face, and his eyes brightened with 
that curious jewel-like gleam I had noticed several times be- 
fore. ^'^ Believe me I shall never contest with you such a 
slight gift as woman's love, Geoffrey. It is not worth fight- 
ing for. And apropos of women, that reminds me, — I have 
promised to take you to the Earl of Elton's box at the Hay- 
market to-night, — he is a poor peer, very gouty and somewhat 


heavily flavoured with port-wine, but his daughter, Lady Sibyl, 
is one of the belles of England. She was presented last season 
and created quite ^fufore. Will you come?" 

"I am quite at your disposition" — I said, glad of any ex- 
cuse to escape the dullness of my own company and to be in 
that of Lucio, whose talk, even if its satire galled me occa- 
sionally, always fascinated my mind and remained in my 
memory — '' What time shall we meet ?" 

^' Go and dress now, and join me at dinner" — he answered ; 
"And we'll drive together to the theatre afterwards. The 
play is on the usual theme which has lately become popular 
with stage-managers, — the glorification of a ' fallen' lady, 
and the exhibition of her as an example of something super- 
latively pure and good, to the astonished eyes of the inno- 
cent. As a play it is not worth seeing, — but perhaps Lady 
Sibyl is." 

He smiled again as he stood facing me, — the light flames of 
the fire had died down to a dull uniform coppery red, — we 
were almost in darkness, and I pressed the small button near 
the mantelpiece that flooded the room with electric light. 
His extraordinary beauty then struck me afresh as something 
altogether singular and half unearthly. 

" Don't you find that people look at you very often as you 
pass, Lucio?" I asked him suddenly and impulsively. 

He laughed. *' Not at all. Why should they? Every 
man is so intent on his own aims, and thinks so much of his 
own personality that he would scarcely forget his ego if the 
very devil himself were behind him. Women look at me 
sometimes, with the affected coy and kitten-like interest 
usually exhibited by the frail sex for a personable man." 

'' I cannot blame them !" I answered, my gaze still resting 
on his stately figure and fine head with as much admiration 
as I might have felt for a noble picture or statue — " What of 
this Lady Sibyl we are to meet to-night, — how does she 
regard you ?' ' 

''Lady Sibyl has never seen me" — he replied — ''And I 


have only seen her at a distance. It is chiefly for the purpose 
of an introduction to her that the Earl has asked us to his box 
this evening." 

*' Ha ha ! Matrimony in view !" I exclaimed jestingly. 

^' Yes — I believe Lady Sibyl is for sale' ' — he answered with 
the callous coldness that occasionally distinguished him and 
made his handsome features look like an impenetrable mask of 
scorn — ''But up to the present the bids have not been suffi- 
ciently high. And I shall not purchase. I have told you 
already, Tempest, I hate women." 

" Seriously?" 

'' Most seriously. Women have always done me harm, — 
they have wantonly hindered me in my progress. And why 
I specially abominate them is, that they have been gifted with 
an enormous power for doing good, and that they let this 
power run to waste and will not use it. Their deliberate en- 
joyment and choice of the repulsive, vulgar and common- 
place side of life disgusts me. They are much less sensitive 
than men, and infinitely more heartless. They are the mothers 
of the human race, and the faults of the race are chiefly due 
to them. That is another reason for my hatred." 

''Do you want the human race to be perfect?" I asked 
astonished — " Because, if you do, you will find that impos- 

He stood for a moment apparently lost in thought. 

" Everything in the Universe is perfect" — he said, " except 
that curious piece of work — Man. Have you never thought 
out any reasons why he should be the one flaw, — the one in- 
complete creature in a matchless Creation ?' ' 

"No, I have not" — I replied — "I take things as I find 
them. ' ' 

" So do I"— and he turned away, "And as I find f/iem, so 
they find me/ Au revoir ! Dinner in an hour's time re- 
member !" 

The door opened and closed — he was gone. I remained 
alone for a little, thinking what a strange disposition was his, 


— what a curious mixture of philosophy, worldliness, senti- 
ment and satire seemed to run like the veins of a leaf through 
the variable temperament of this brilliant, semi-mysterious 
personage who had by mere chance become my greatest friend. 
We had now been more or less together for nearly a month, 
and I was no closer to the secret of his actual nature than I 
had been at first. Yet I admired him more than ever, — with- 
out his society I felt life would be deprived of half its charm. 
For though, attracted as human moths will be by the glare of 
my glittering millions, numbers of so-called ' friends' now 
surrounded me, there was not one among them who so domi- 
nated my every mood and with whom I had so much close 
sympathy as this man, — this masterful, half cruel, half kind 
companion of my days, who at times seemed to accept all life 
as the veriest bagatelle, and myself as a part of the trivial 


No man, I think, ever forgets the first time he is brought face 
to face with perfect beauty in woman. He may have caught 
fleeting glimpses of loveliness on many fair faces often, — bright 
eyes may have flashed on him like star-beams, — the hues of a 
dazzling complexion may now and then have charmed him, 
or the seductive outlines of a graceful figure ; — all these are as 
mere peeps into the infinite. But when such vague and passing 
impressions are suddenly drawn together in one focus, — when 
all his dreamy fancies of form and colour take visible and com- 
plete manifestation in one living creature who looks down 
upon him as it were from an empyrean of untouched maiden 
pride and purity, it is more to his honour than his shame, if 
his senses swoon at the ravishing vision, and he, despite his 
rough masculinity and brute strength, becomes nothing but 
the merest slave to passion. In this way was I overwhelmed 
and conquered without any chance of deliverance when Sybil 
Elton's violet eyes, lifted slowly from the shadow of their 



dark lashes, rested upon me with that indefinable expres- 
sion of mingled interest and indifference which is supposed 
to indicate high breeding, but which more frequently intim- 
idates and repulses the frank and sensitive soul. The Lady 
Sibyl's glance repelled, but I was none the less attracted. 
Rimanez and I had entered the Earl of Elton's box at the 
Haymarket between the first and second acts of the play, 
and the Earl himself, an unimpressive, bald-headed, red- 
faced old gentleman, with fuzzy white whiskers, had risen 
to welcome us, seizing Lucio's hand and shaking it with 
particular effusiveness. (I learned afterwards that Lucio had 
lent him a thousand pounds on easy terms, a fact which 
partly accounted for the friendly fervour of his greeting.) 
His- daughter had not moved ; but a minute or two later 
when he addressed her somewhat sharply, saying " Sibyl ! 
Prince Rimanez and his friend, Mr Geoffrey Tempest," she 
turned her head and honoured us both with the chill glance 
I have endeavoured to describe, and the very faintest possible 
bow as an acknowledgment of our presence. Her exquisite 
beauty smote me dumb and foolish, — I could find nothing to 
say, and stood silent and confused, with a strange sensation of 
bewilderment upon me. The old Earl made some remark 
about the play which I scarcely heard though I answered 
vaguely and at hap-hazard, — the orchestra was playing abomi- 
nably as is usual in theatres, and its brazen din sounded like 
the noise of the sea in my ears, — I had not much real con- 
sciousness of anything save the wondrous loveliness of the 
girl who faced me, clad in pure white, with a few diamonds 
shining about her like stray dewdrops on a rose. Lucio spoke 
to her, and I listened. 

''At last. Lady Sibyl," he said, bending towards her defer- 
entially. '^At last I have the honour of meeting you. I 
have seen you often, as one sees a star, — at a distance." 

She smiled, — a smile so slight and cold that it scarcely 
lifted the corners of her lovely lips. 

** I do not think I have ever seen you, ' ' she replied. ^' And 


yet there is something oddly familiar in your face. I have 
heard my father speak of you constantly, — I need scarcely 
say his friends are always mine." 

He bowed. 

'' To merely speak to Lady Sibyl Elton is counted sufficient 
to make the man so privileged happy," he said. '' To be her 
friend is to discover the lost paradise. ' ' 

She flushed, — then grew suddenly very pale, and shivering, 
she drew her cloak towards her. Rimanez wrapped its per- 
fumed silken folds carefully round her beautiful shoulders, — 
how I grudged him the dainty task ! He then turned to me, 
and placed a chair just behind hers. 

^* Will you sit here, Geoffrey?" he suggested — "I want to 
have a moment's business chat with Lord Elton." 

Recovering my self-possession a little, I hastened to take 
the chance he thus generously gave me to ingratiate myself in 
the young lady's favour, and my heart gave a foolish bound 
of joy because she smiled encouragingly as I approached 

*' You are a great friend of Prince Rimanez?" she asked 
softly, as I sat down. 

"Yes, we are very intimate," I replied — " He is a delight- 
ful companion." 

" So I should imagine !" and she looked over at him where 
he sat next to her father talking earnestly in low tones — " He 
is singularly handsome." 

I made no reply. Of course Lucio's extraordinary personal 
attractiveness was undeniable, — but I rather grudged her 
praise bestowed on him just then. Her remarks seemed to 
me as tactless as when a man with one pretty woman beside 
him loudly admires another in her hearing. I did not myself 
assume to be actually handsome, but I knew I was better 
looking than the ordinary run of men. So out of sudden 
pique I remained silent, and presently the curtain rose and 
the play was resumed. A very questionable scene was enacted, 
the ' woman with the past' being well to the front of it. I felt 


disgusted at the performance and looked at my companions to 
see if they too were similarly moved. There was no sign of 
disapproval on Lady Sibyl's fair countenance, — her father was 
bending forward eagerly, apparently gloating over every detail, 
— Rimanez wore that inscrutable expression of his in which 
no feeling whatever could be discerned. The ' Avoman with 
the past' went on with her hysterical sham-heroics, and the 
mealy-mouthed fool of a hero declared her to be a ' pure 
angel wronged,' and the curtain fell amid loud applause. One 
energetic hiss came from the gallery, affecting the occupants 
of the stalls to scandalized amazement. 

''England has progressed!" said Rimanez in soft half- 
bantering tones — "Once upon a time this play would have 
been hooted off the stage as likely to corrupt the social com- 
munity. But now the only voice of protest comes from the 
' lower' classes. ' ' 

'* Are you a democrat, prince ?" inquired Lady Sibyl, waving 
her fan indolently to and fro. 

''Not I ! I always insist on the pride and supremacy of 
worth, — I do not mean money value, but intellect. And in 
this way I foresee a new aristocracy. When the High grows 
corrupt, it falls and becomes the Low; — when the Low edu- 
cates itself and aspires, it becomes the High. This is simply 
the course of nature." 

'*But God bless my soul !" exclaimed Lord Elton — "you 
don't call this play low or immoral, do you ?" It's a realistic 
study of modern social life — that's what it is. These women 
you know, — these poor souls v/ith a past — are very in- 

" Very !" murmured his daughter. — " In fact it would seem 
that for women with no such ' past' there can be no future. 
Virtue and modesty are quite out of date, and have no chance 
whatever. ' ' 

I leaned towards her, half whispering — 

" Lady Sibyl, I am glad to see this wretched play oifends 
you. ' ' 


She turned her deep eyes on me in mingled surprise and 

" Oh no, it doesn't," she declared — '* I have seen so many- 
like it. And I have read so many novels on just the same 
theme. I assure you I am quite convinced that the so-called 
' bad' woman is the only popular type of our sex with men, 
— she gets all the enjoyment possible out of life, — she fre- 
quently makes an excellent marriage, and has, as the Amer- 
icans say, 'a. good time all round.' It's the same thing with 
our convicted criminals, — in prison they are much better 
fed than the honest working-man. I believe it is quite a 
mistake for a woman to be respectable, — they are only con- 
sidered dull." 

''Ah now you are only joking !" I said with an indulgent 
smile. " You know that in your heart you think very differ- 

She made no answer, as just then the curtain went up again, 
disclosing the unclean ' lady' of the piece, '' having a good time 
all round" on board a luxurious yacht. During the unnatural 
and stilted dialogue which followed, I withdrew a little back 
into the shadow of the box, and all that self-esteem and as- 
surance of which I had been suddenly deprived by a glance 
at Lady Sibyl's beauty, came back to me, and a perfectly 
stolid coolness and composure succeeded to the first feverish 
excitement of my mind. I recalled Lucio's words — '^ I be- 
lieve Lady Sibyl is for sale"" — and I thought triumphantly of 
my millions. I glanced at the old earl, abjectly pulling at 
his white whiskers while he listened anxiously to what were 
evidently money schemes propounded by Lucio. Then my 
gaze came back appraisingly to the lovely curves of Lady 
Sibyl's milk-white throat, her beautiful arms and bosom, her 
rich brown hair of the shade of a ripe chestnut, her delicate 
haughty face, languid eyes and brilliant complexion, — and I 
murmured inwardly — '' All this loveliness is purchasable and 
I will purchase it !" At that very instant she turned to me 
and said — 



''You are the famous Mr Tempest, are you not?" 

''Famous?" I echoed with a deep sense of gratification 
— "Well, — I am scarcely that, — yet ! My book is not pub- 
lished ..." 

Her eyebrows arched themselves surprisedly. 

" Your book? I did not know you had written one !" 

My flattered vanity sank to zero. 

" It has been extensively advertised," I began impressively, 

but she interrupted me with a laugh. 

"Oh I never read advertisements, — it's too much trouble. 
When I asked if you were the famous Mr Tempest, I meant to 
say were you the great millionaire who has been so much talked 
of lately?" 

I bowed a somewhat chill assent. She looked at me in- 
quisitively over the lace edge of her fan. 

"How delightful it must be for you to have so much 
money!" she said — "And you are young too, and good- 

Pleasure took the place of vexed amour-propre and I 

" You are very kind, Lady Sibyl !" 

"Why?" she asked laughing, — such a delicious little low 
laugh — "Because I tell you the truth? You ^;r young and 
you are good-looking. Millionaires are generally such appal- 
ling creatures. Fortune while giving them money frequently 
deprives them of both brains and personal attractiveness. And 
now do tell me about your book !" 

She seemed to have suddenly dispensed with her former 
reserve, and during the last act of the play, we conversed 
freely, in whispers which assisted us to become almost con- 
fidential. Her manner to ine now was full of grace and 
charm, and the fascination she exerted over my senses became 
complete. The performance over, we all left the box together, 
and as Lucio was still apparently engrossed with Lord Elton, 
I had the satisfaction of escorting Lady Sibyl to her carriage. 
When her father joined her, Lucio and I both stood together 


looking in at the window of the brougham, and the Earl, 
getting hold of my hand shook it up and down with boisterous 

"Come and dine, — come and dine !" he spluttered excitedly, 
— " Come — let me see, — this is Tuesday — come on Thursday. 
Short notice and no ceremony ! My wife is paralyzed I'm 
sorry to say, — she can't receive, — she can only see a few 
people now and then when she is in the humour, — her sister 
keeps house and does the honours, — Aunt Charlotte, eh 
Sibyl? — ha-ha-ha ! The Deceased Wife's Sister's Bill would 
never be any use to me, for if my wife were to die I shouldn't 
be anxious to marry Miss Charlotte Fitzroy ! Ha ha ha ! A 
perfectly unapproachable woman, sir ! — a model, — ha ha ! 
Come and dine with us, Mr Tempest, — Lucio, you bring him 
along with you, eh? We've got a young lady staying with 
us, — an American, dollars, accent and all, — and by Jove I be- 
lieve she wants to marry me, ha ha ha ! and is waiting for Lady 
Elton to go to a better world first, ha ha ! Come along — come 
and see the little American, eh ? Thursday shall it be ?' ' 

Over the fair features of Lady Sibyl there passed a faint 
shadow of annoyance at her father's allusion to the ''little 
American," but she said nothing. Only her looks appeared 
to question our intentions as well as to persuade our wills, 
and she seemed satisfied when we both accepted the invita- 
tion given. Another apoplectic chuckle from the Earl and a 
couple of handshakes, — a slight graceful bow from her lovely 
ladyship, as we raised our hats in farewell, and the Elton 
equipage rolled away, leaving us to enter our own vehicle, 
which amid the officious roarings of street-boys and police- 
men had just managed to draw up in front of the theatre. As 
we drove off, Lucio peered inquisitively at me — I could see 
the steely glitter of his fine eyes in the semi-darkness of the 
brougham, — and said — 


I was silent. 

"Don't you admire her?" he went on — "I must confess 



she is cold, — a very chilly vestal indeed, — but snow often 
covers volcanoes ! She has good features and a naturally 
clear complexion." 

Despite my intention to be reticent, I could not endure this 
tame description. 

'' She is perfectly beautiful," — I said emphatically. '' The 
dullest eyes must see that. There is not a fault to be found 
with her. And she is wise to be reserved and cold — were 
she too lavish of her smiles, and too seductive in manner she 
might drive many men not only into folly, but madness." 

I felt rather than saw the cat-like jewel glance he flashed 
upon me. 

''Positively, Geoffrey, I believe, that notwithstanding the 
fact that we are only in February, the wind blows upon you 
due south, bringing with it odours of rose and orange-blossom ! 
I fancy Lady Sibyl has powerfully impressed you?" 

^' Did you wish me to be impressed?" I asked. 

*'I? My dear fellow, I wish nothing that you yourself do 
not wish. I accommodate my ways to my friends' humours. 
If asked for my opinion, I should say it is rather a pity if 
you are really smitten with the young lady, as there are no 
obstacles to be encountered. A love-affair, to be conducted 
with spirit and enterprise should always bristle with opposi- 
tion and difficulty, real or invented. A little secrecy and a 
good deal of wrong-doing, such as sly assignations and the 
telling of any amount of lies — such things add to the agree- 
ableness of love-making on this planet — " 

I interrupted him. 

''See here, Lucio, you are very fond of alluding to 'this' 
planet as if you knew anything about other planets" — I said 
impatiently. ^^This planet, as you somewhat contemptuously 
call it, is the only one we have any business with." 

He bent his piercing looks so ardently upon me that for the 
moment I was startled. 

"If that is so," he answered, "why in Heaven's name do 
you not let the other planets alone ? Why do you strive to 


fathom their mysteries and movements ? If men, as you say, 
have no business with any planet save this one, why are they 
ever on the alert to discover the secret of mightier worlds, — a 
secret which haply it may some day terrify them to know !" 

The solemnity of his voice and the inspired expression of 
his face awed me. I had no reply ready, and he went on — 

" Do not let us talk, my friend, of planets, not even of this 
particular pin's point among them known as Earth. Let us 
return to a better subject — the Lady Sibyl. As I have already 
said, there are no obstacles in the way of your wooing and 
winning her, if such is your desire. Geoffrey Tempest, as 
mere author of books would indeed be insolent to aspire to 
the hand of an earl's daughter, but Geoffrey Tempest, million- 
aire, will be a welcome suitor. Poor Lord Elton's affairs are 
in a bad way — he is almost out-at-elbows, the American woman 
who is boarding with him " 

** Boarding with him !" I exclaimed — *' Surely he does not 
keep a boarding-house ?' ' 

Lucio laughed heartily. 

^'No, no ! — you must not put it so coarsely, Geoffrey. It 
is simply this, that the Earl and Countess of Elton give the 
prestige of their home and protection to Miss Diana Chesney 
(the American aforesaid) for the trifling sum of two thousand 
guineas per annum. The Countess being paralyzed, is 
obliged to hand over her duties of chaperonage to her sister 
Miss Charlotte Fitzroy, — but the halo of the coronet still 
hovers over Miss Chesney' s brow. She has her own suite of 
rooms in the house, and goes wherever it is proper for her to 
go, under Miss Fitzroy' s care. Lady Sibyl does not like the 
arrangement, and is therefore never seen anywhere except with 
her father. She will not join in companionship with Miss 
Chesney and has said so pretty plainly." 

''I admire her for it !" I said warmly — ^' I really am sur- 
prised that Lord Elton should condescend " 

'' Condescend to what?" inquired Lucio — '' Condescend to 
take two thousand guineas a year? Good heavens man. 


there are no end of lords and ladies who will readily agree 
to perform such an act of condescension. ' Blue' blood is 
getting thin and poor, and only money can thicken it. 
Diana Chesney is worth over a million dollars and if Lady 
Elton were to die conveniently soon, I should not be surprised 
to see that ' little American' step triumphantly into her vacant 

'* What a state of topsy-turveydom !" I said half angrily. 

'' Geoffrey, my friend, you are really amazingly inconsistent ! 
Is there a more flagrant example of topsy-turveydom than 
yourself for instance ? Six weeks ago, what were you ? A 
mere scribbler, with flutterings of the wings of genius in your 
soul but many uncertainties as to whether those wings would 
ever be strong enough to lift you out of the rut of obscurity 
in which you floundered, struggling and grumbling at adverse 
fate. Now, as millionaire, you think contemptuously of an 
Earl, because he ventures quite legitimately to add a little to 
his income by boarding an American heiress and launching 
her into society where she would never get without him. 
And you aspire, or probably mean to aspire to the hand of 
the Earl's daughter, as if you yourself were a descendant of 
kings. Nothing can be more topsy-turvey than your con- 

*' My father was a gentleman," I said with a touch of hau- 
teur, '' and a descendant of gentlemen. We were never com- 
mon folk, — our family was one of the most highly esteemed 
in the counties." 

Lucio smiled. 

*' I do not doubt it, my dear fellow, — I do not in the least 
doubt it. But a simple ' gentleman' is a long way below — or 
above — an Earl. Have it which side you choose ! — because it 
really doesn't matter now-a-days. We have come to a period 
of history when rank and lineage count as nothing at all, owing 
to the profoundly obtuse stupidity of those who happen to pos- 
sess it. So it chances, that as no resistance is made, brewers 
are created peers of the realm, and ordinary tradesmen are 


knighted, and the very old families are so poor that they have 
to sell their estates and jewels to the highest bidder, who is 
frequently a vulgar ' railway-king' or the introducer of some 
new manure. You occupy a better position than such, since 
you inherit your money with the further satisfaction that you 
do not know how it was made." 

"True!" I answered meditatively, — then, with a sudden 
flash of recollection I added — '^ By the way I never told you 
that my deceased relative imagined that he had sold his soul 
to the devil, and that this vast fortune of his was the material 
result ! ' ' 

Lucio burst into a violent fit of laughter. 

*' No ! Not possible !" he exclaimed derisively — " What an 
idea ! I suppose he had a screw loose somewhere ! Imagine 
any sane man believing in a devil ! Ha, ha, ha ! And in 
these advanced days too ! Well, well ! The folly of human 
imaginations will never end ! Here we are !" — and he sprang 
lightly out as the brougham stopped at the Grand Hotel — 
*'Iwill say good-night to you, Tempest. I've promised to 
go and have a gamble." 

*' A gamble? where?" 

*' At one of the select private clubs. There are any amount 
of them in this eminently moral metropolis — no occasion to go 
to Monte Carlo ! Will you come ?" ^ 

I hesitated. The fair face of Lady Sibyl haunted my mind, 
and I felt, with a no doubt foolish sentimentality, that I would 
rather keep my thoughts of her sacred, and unpolluted by con- 
tact with things of low^er tone. 

"Not to-night" — I said, — then half smiling I added — "It 
must be rather a one-sided affair for other men to gamble 
with you, Lucio ! You can afford to lose, — and perhaps they 

* ' If they can' t they shouldn' t play' ' — he answered — " A man 
should at least know his own mind and his own capacity ; if 
he doesn't he is no man at all. As far as I have learned by 
long experience, those who gamble, like it, and when ^/ley like 


it /like it. I'll take you with me to-morrow if you care to 
see the fun, — one or two very emiment men are members of 
the club, though of course they wouldn't have it known for 
worlds. You shan't lose much — I'll see to that." 

** All right, — to-morrow it shall be!" — I responded, fori 
did not wish to appear as though I grudged losing a few 
pounds at play — '* But to-night I think I'll write some letters 
before going to bed." 

''Yes — and dream of Lady Sibyl !" said Lucio laughing — 
'*If she fascinates you as much when you see her again on 
Thursday you had better begin the siege !" 

He waved his hand gaily, and re-entering his carriage, was 
driven off at a furious pace through the drifting fog and rain. 


My publisher, John Morgeson — the estimable individual 
who had first refused my book, and who now, moved by self- 
interest, was devoting his energies assiduously to the business 
of launching it in the most modern and approved style, was 
not like Shakespeare's C^j-j-/^, strictly * an honourable man.' 
Neither was he the respectable chief of a long-established firm 
whose system of the cheating of authors, mellowed by time, 
had become almost sacred ; — he was a ' new' man, with new 
ways, and a good stock of new push and impudence. All the 
same, he was clever, shrewd and diplomatic, and for some 
reason or other, had secured the favour of a certain portion of 
the press, many of the dailies and weeklies always giving spe- 
cial prominence to his publications over the heads of other far 
more legitimately dealing firms. He entered into a partial 
explanation of his methods, when, on the morning after my 
first meeting with the Earl of Elton and his daughter, I called 
upon him to inquire how things were going with regard to my 


"We shall publish next week," — he said, rubbing his 
hands complacently, and addressing me with all the deference 
due to my banking account — '* And as you don't mind what 
you spend, I'll tell you just what I propose to do. I intend 
to write out a mystifying paragraph of about some seventy lines 
or so, describing the book in a vague sort of way as ' likely to 
create a new era of thought' — or, ' ere long eve?'}' body who is 
anybody will be compelled to read this remarkable work,' — or 
*■ as something that must be welcome to all who would under- 
stand the drift of one of^Jhe most delicate and burning questio?is 
of the time. ' These are all stock phrases, used over and over 
again by the reviewers, — there's no copyright in them. And 
the last one always * tells' wonderfully, considering how old it 
is and how often it has been made to do duty, because any 
allusion to a ' delicate and burning question'' makes a number 
of people think the novel must be improper, and they send for 
it at once." 

He chuckled at his own perspicuity, and I sat silent, study- 
ing him with much inward amusement. This man on whose 
decision I had humbly and anxiously waited not so many 
weeks ago was now my paid tool, — ready to obey me to any 
possible extent for so much cash, — and I listened to him in- 
dulgently while he went on unravelling his schemes for the 
gratification of my vanity, and the pocketing of his extras. 

*' The book has been splendidly advertised" — he went on ; 
" It could not have been more lavishly done. Orders do not 
come in very fast yet — but they will, — they will. This para- 
graph of mine, which will take the shape of a leaderette,' I 
can get inserted in about eight hundred to a thousand news- 
papers here and in America. It will cost you, — say a hundred 
guineas — perhaps a trifle more. Do you mind that?" 

*' Not in the least !" I replied, still vastly amused. 

He meditated a moment, — then drew his chair closer to 
mine and lowered his voice a little. 

''You understand I suppose, that I shall only issue two 
hundred and fifty copies at first?" 
T^ g 9 


This limited number seemed to me absurd and I protested 

^' Such an idea is ridiculous !" I said — '' you cannot supply 
the trade with such a scanty edition." 

'' Wait, my dear sir, wait, — you are too impatient. You do 
not give me time to explain. All these two hundred and fifty 
will he given aiuay by me in the proper quarters on the day of 
publication, never mind how, — they must be given away — " 


*'Why?" and the worthy Morgeson laughed sweetly — ''I 
see, my dear Mr Tempest, you are like most men of genius — 
you do not understand business. The reason why we give the 
first two hundred and fifty copies away is in order to be able 
to announce at once in all the papers that ' The Fhst Large 
Edition of the New Novel by Geoffrey Tempest being exhausted 
on the day of publication, a Second is in Rapid Preparatiotiy 
You see we thus hoodwink the public, who of course are not 
in our secrets, and are not to know whether an edition is two 
hundred or two thousand. The Second Edition will of course 
be ready behind the scenes and will consist of another two 
hundred and fifty." 

*' Do you call that course of procedure honest?" I asked 

*' Honest ? My dear sir ! Honest ?' ' And his countenance 
wore a virtuously injured expression — '^ Of course it is honest ! 
Look at the daily papers ! Such announcements appear every 
day — in fact they are getting rather too common. I freely 
admit that there are a few publishers here and there who stick 
up for exactitude and go to the trouble of not only giving the 
number of copies in an Edition, but also publishing the date 
of each one as it was issued, — this may be principle if they 
like to call it so, but it involves a great deal of precise cal- 
culation and worry ! If the public like to be deceived, what 
is the use of being exact ! Now, to resume, — your second 
edition will be sent off ' on sale or return' to provincial book- 
sellers, and then we shall announce — ' In consequence of the 



Enormous Demand for the new novel by Geoffrey Tempest, the 
Large Second Edition is out of print. A Third will be issued 
in the course of next week.' And so on, and so on, till we 
get to the sixth or seventh edition (always numbering two 
hundred and fifty each) in three volumes ; perhaps we can by 
skilful management work it up to a tenth. It is only a question 
of diplomacy and a little dexterous humbugging of the trade. 
Then we shall arrive at the one- volume issue which will require 
different handling. But there's time enough for that. The 
frequent advertisements will add to the expense a bit, but if 
you don't mind — " 

''I don't mind anything," I said — '^so long as I have my 

^*Your fun?" he queried surprisedly — ''I thought it was 
fame you wanted, more than fun !" 

I laughed aloud. 

** I'm not such a fool as to suppose that fame is secured by 
advertisement," I said — " For instance I am one of those who 
think the fame of Millais as an artist was marred when he 
degraded himself to the level of painting the little green boy 
blowing bubbles of Pears' s Soap. That was an advertisement. 
And that very incident in his career, trifling though it seem, 
will prevent his ever standing on the same dignified height of 
distinction with such masters in art as Romney, Sir Peter Lely, 
Gainsborough or Reynolds." 

" I believe there is a great deal of justice in what you say," — 
and Morgeson shook his head wisely — ''Viewed from a 
purely artistic and sentimental standpoint you are right." 
And he became suddenly downcast and dubious. " Yes, — it 
is a most extraordinary thing how fame does escape people 
sometimes just when they seem on the point of grasping it. 
They are ' boomed' in every imaginable way, and yet after 
a time nothing will keep them up. And there are others 
again who get kicked and buffeted and mocked and de- 
rided " 

'' Like Christ ?' ' I interposed with a half smile. He looked 


shocked, — he was a Non-conformist, — but remembering in 
time how rich I was, he bowed with a meek patience. 

''Yes" — and he sighed — ''as you suggest, Mr Tempest, 
like Christ. Mocked and derided and opposed at every turn, 
— and yet by the queerest caprice of destiny, succeed in 
winning a world-wide fame and power ' ' 

''Like Christ again !" I said mischievously, for I loved to 
jar his non-conformist conscience. 

*' Exactly!" He paused, looking piously down. Then 
with a return of secular animation he added — " But I was not 
thinking of the Great Example just then, Mr Tempest — I was 
thinking of a woman." 

" Indeed !" I said indifferently. 

"Yes — a w^oman who despite continued abuse and opposi- 
tion is rapidly becoming celebrated. You are sure to hear 
of her in literary and social circles" — and he gave me a 
furtive glance of doubtful inquiry — "but she is not rich you 
know, — only famous. However, — we have nothing to do 
with her just now — so let us return to business. The one 
uncertain point in the matter of your book's success is the 
attitude of the critics. There are only six leading men who 
do the reviews, and between them they cover all the English 
magazines and some of the American too, as well as the 
London papers. Here are their names" — and he handed me 
a pencilled memorandum, — " and their addresses as far as I 
can ascertain them, or the addresses of the papers for which 
they most frequently write. The man at the head of the list, 
David McWhing, is the most formidable of the lot. He 
writes everywhere about everything, — being a Scotchman he's 
bound to have his finger in every pie. If you can secure 
McWhing, you need not trouble so much about the others, as 
he generally gives the 'lead,' and has his own way with the 
editors. He is one of the ' personal friends' of the editor of 
the Nineteenth Century for example, and you would be sure 
to get a notice there, which would otherwise be impossible. 
No reviewer can review anything for that magazine unless he 


is one of the editor's friends.^"^ You must msn.ags McWhin^,' 
or he might, just for the sake of ' showing otf, ' cut you up 
rather roughly. " .,•'"'..: 

"That would not matter," I said, diverted at the idea of 
' managing McWhing,' — " A little slating always helps a book 
to sell." 

'' In some cases it does" — and Morgeson stroked his thin 
beard perplexedly — " But in others it most emphatically does 
not. Where there is any very decided or daring originality, 
adverse criticism is always the most effective. But a work 
like yours requires fostering with favour, — wants ' booming' 
in short " 

" I see !" and I felt distinctly annoyed — '' You don't think 
my book original enough to stand alone ?' ' 

''My dear sir! — you are really — really — ! what shall I 
say?" and he smiled apologetically — "a little brusque? I 
think your book shows admirable scholarship and delicacy of 
thought, — if I find fault with it at all, it is perhaps because I 
am dense. The only thing it lacks in my opinion is what I 
should call tenaciousness, for want of a better expression, — 
the quality of holding the reader's fancy fixed like a nail. 
But after all this is a common failing of modern literature, few 
authors feel sufficiently themselves to make others feel." 

I made no reply for a moment. I w^as thinking of Lucio's 
remarks on this very same subject. 

" Well !" I said at last—'' If I had no feeling when I wrote 
the book I certainly have none now. Why man, I felt every 
line of it ! — painfully and intensely !" 

" Ay, ay indeed !" said Morgeson soothingly — " Or perhaps 
you thought you felt, which is another very curious phase of 
the literary temperament. You see, to convince people at 
all, you must first yourself be convinced. The result of this 
is generally a singular magnetic attraction between author 

* The author has Mr Knovvles's own written authority for this ' log-roll- 
ing' fact. 


and public. ' However I am a bad hand at argument, — and 
it is possible that in hasty reading I may have gathered a 
wrong' impression of your intentions. Anyhow the book 
shall be a success if we can make it so. All I venture to ask 
of you is that you should personally endeavour to manage 
McWhing !" 

I promised to do my best, and on this understanding we 
parted. I realized that Morgeson was capable of greater dis- 
cernment than I had imagined, and his observations had given 
me material for thought which was not altogether agreeable. 
For if my book as he said lacked tenacity, why then it would 
not take root in the public mind, — it would be merely the 
ephemeral success of a season, — one of those brief ' booms' in 
literary wares for which I had such unmitigated contempt, — 
and Fame would be as far off as ever, except that spurious im- 
itation of it which the fact of my millions had secured. I 
was in no good humour that afternoon, and Lucio saw it. He 
soon elicited the sum and substance of my interview with 
Morgeson, and laughed long and somewhat uproariously over 
the proposed * managing' of the redoubtable McWhing. He 
glanced at the five names of the other leading critics and 
shrugged his shoulders. 

"Morgeson is quite right" — he said — ''McWhing is inti- 
mate with the rest of these fellows— they meet at the same 
clubs, dine at the same cheap restaurants and make love to the 
same painted ballet-girls. All in a comfortable little fraternal 
union together, and one obliges the other on their several 
journals when occasion offers. Oh yes ! I should make up to 
McWhing if I were you." 

"But how?" I demanded, for though I knew McWhing's 
name well enough having seen it signed ad nauseam to literary 
articles in almost every paper extant, I had never met the man ; 
" I cannot ask any favour of a press critic." 

"Of course not !" and Lucio laughed heartily again — " If 
you were to do such an idiotic thing what a slating you'd get 
for your pains ! There's no sport a critic loves so much as 


the flaying of an author who has made the mistake of lowering 
himself to the level of asking favours of his intellectual inferiors. 
No, no, my dear fellow ! — we shall manage McWhing quite 
differently, /know him though you do not." 

"Come, that's good news !" I exclaimed — "Upon my word, 
Lucio, you seem to know everybody." 

" I think I know most people worth knowing — " responded 
Lucio quietly — " Though I by no means include Mr McWhing 
in the category of worthiness. I happened to make his 
personal acquaintance in a somewhat singular and exciting 
manner. It was in Switzerland, on that awkward ledge of 
rock known as the Mauvais Pas. I had been some weeks 
in the neighbourhood on business of my own, and being sure- 
footed and fearless, was frequently allowed by the guides to 
volunteer my services with theirs. In this capacity of 
amateur guide, capricious destiny gave me the pleasure of 
escorting the timid and bilious McWhing across the chasms 
of the Mer de Glace, and I conversed with him in the 
choicest French all the while, a language of which, despite 
his boasted erudition, he was deplorably ignorant. I knew 
who he was, I must tell you, as I know most of his craft, and 
had long been aware of him as one of the authorized 
murderers of aspiring genius. When I got him on the 
Mauvais Pas, I saw that he was seized with vertigo ; I held 
him firmly by the arm and addressed him in sound strong 
English thus — ' Mr. McWhing, you wrote a damnable and 
scurrilous article against the work of a certain poet' and I 
named the man — 'an article that was a tissue of lies from 
beginning to end, and which by its cruelty and venom 
embittered a life of brilliant promise, and crushed a nob'e 
spirit. Now, unless you promise to write and publish in a 
leading magazine a total recantation of this your crime when 
you get back to England, — if you get back ! — giving that 
wronged man the ' honourable mention' he rightly deserves, 
— down you go ! I have but to loosen my hold !' Geoffre}^ 
you should have seen McWhing then ! He whined, he 


wriggled, he clung ! Never was an oracle of the press in 
such an unoracular condition. ^Murder!' — murder!' he 
gasped, but his voice failed him. Above him towered the 
snow peaks like the summits of that Fame he could not 
reach and therefore grudged to others, — below him the glitter- 
ing ice-waves yawned in deep transparent hollows of opaline 
blue and green, — and afar off the tinkling cowbells echoed 
through the still air, suggestive of safe green pastures and happy- 
homes. ' Murder !' he whispered gurglingly. * Nay !' said I, 
* 'tis I should cry Murder ! — for if ever an arresting hand held 
a murderer, mine holds one now ! Your system of slaying is 
worse than that of the midnight assassin, for the assassin can 
but kill the body, — yozi strive to kill the soul. You cannot 
succeed 'tis true, but the mere attempt is devilish. No shouts, 
no struggles will serve you here, — we are alone with Eternal 
Nature, — give the man you have slandered his tardy recogni- 
tion, or else, as I said before — down you go !' Well, to make 
my story short he yielded, and swore to do as I bade him, — 
whereupon placing my arm round him as though he were my 
tender twin-brother I led him safely off the Mauvais Pas and 
dowm the kindlier hill, where, what with the fright and the 
remains of vertigo he fell a' weeping grievously. Would you 
believe it, that before we reached Chamounix we had become 
the best friends in the world ? He explained himself and his 
rascally modes of action, and I nobly exonerated him, — we 
exchanged cards, and when we parted, this same author's bug- 
bear McWhing, overcome with sentiment and whisky toddy 
(he is a Scotchman you know) swore that I was the grandest 
fellow in the world, and that if ever he could serve me he 
would. He knew my princely title by this time, but he would 
have given me a still higher name. ''You are not — hie — a 
poet yourself?' he murmured, leaning on me fondly as he 
rolled to bed. I told him no. 'I am sorry — very!' he de- 
ckired, the tears of whisky rising to his eyes, ' If you had been 
I would have done a great thing for you, — I would have 
boomed you,— for ?iofhi/i^ /' I left him snoring nobly and 


saw him no more. But I think he'll recognise me, Geoffrey; 
— I'll go and look him up personally. By all the gods ! — if 
he had only known who held him between life and death upon 
the Mauvais Pas !" 

I stared, puzzled. 

"But he did know" — I said — "Did you not say you 
exchanged cards ?' ' 

" True, but that was afterwards !" and Lucio laughed — " I 
assure you, my dear fellow, we can 'manage' McWhing !" 

I was intensely interested in the story as he told it, — he 
had such a dramatic way of speaking and looking, while his 
very gestures brought the whole scene vividly before me like a 
picture. I spoke out my thought impulsively. 

" You would certainly have made a superb actor, Lucio !" 

"How do you know I am not one?" he asked with a 
flashing glance, — then he added quickly — "No, — there is no 
occasion to paint the face and prance over the boards before 
a row of tawdry footlights like the paid mimes in order to 
be historically great. The finest actor is he who can play 
the comedy of life perfectly, as I aspire to do. To walk 
well, talk well, smile well, weep well, groan well, laugh well 
— and die well ! — it is all pure acting, — because in every 
man there is the dumb dreadful immortal Spirit who is real, 
— who cannot act, — who Is, — and who steadily maintains an 
infinite though speechless protest against the body's Lie !" 

I said nothing in answer to this outburst, — I was beginning 
to be used to his shifting humours and strange utterances, — 
they increased the mysterious attraction I had for him and 
made his character a perpetual riddle to me which was not 
without its subtle charm. Every now and then I realized, 
with a faintly startled sense of self-abasement, that I was com- 
pletely under his dominance, — that my life was being entirely 
guided by his control and suggestion, — but I argued with 
myself that surely it was well it should be so, seeing he had 
so much more experience and influence than I. We dined 
together that night as we often did, and our conversation was 


entirely taken up with monetary and business concerns. 
Under Lucio's advice I was making several important invest- 
ments, and these matters gave us ample subject for discussion. 
At about eleven o'clock, it being a fine frosty evening and fit 
for brisk walking, we went out, our destination being the pri- 
vate gambling club to which my companion had volunteered 
to introduce me as a guest. It was situated at the end of 
a mysterious little back street, not far from the respectable 
precincts of Pali-Mall, and was an unpretentious looking 
house enough outside, but within, it was sumptuously though 
tastelessly furnished. Apparently, the premises were presided 
over by a woman, — a woman with painted eyes and dyed hair 
who received us first of all within the lamp-lighted splendours 
of an Anglo-Japanese drawing-room. Her looks and manner 
undisguisedly proclaimed her as a deuii-mondaine of the most 
pronounced type, — one of those * pure' ladies with a ' past' 
who are represented as such martyrs to the vices of men. 
Lucio said something to her apart, — whereupon she glanced 
at me deferentially and smiled, — then rang the bell. A 
discreet looking man-servant in sober black made his appear- 
ance, and at a slight sign from his mistress who bowed to me 
as I passed her, proceeded to show us upstairs. We trod on 
a carpet of the softest felt, — in fact I noticed that everything 
was rendered as noiseless as possible in this establishment, 
the very doors being covered with thick baize and swinging on 
silent hinges. On the upper landing, the servant knocked 
very cautiously at a side-door, — a key turned in the lock, and 
we were admitted into a long double room, very brilliantly 
lit with electric lamps, which at a first glance seemed crowded 
with men playing at 7'ouge et noir and baccarat. Some looked 
up as Lucio entered and nodded smilingly, — others glanced 
inquisitively at me, but our entrance was otherwise scarcely 
noticed. Lucio drawing me along by the arm, sat doAvn to 
watch the play, — I followed his example and presently found 
myself infected by the intense excitement which permeated 
the room like the silent tension of the air before a thunder- 


storm. I recognised the faces of many well known public 
men, — men eminent in politics and society whom one would 
never have imagined capable of supporting a gambling club 
by their presence and authority. But I took care to betray 
no sign of surprise, and quietly observed the games and the 
gamesters with almost as impassive a demeanour as that of my 
companion. I was prepared to play and to lose, — I was not 
prepared however for the strange scene which was soon to 
occur and in which I, by force of circumstances was com- 
pelled to take a leading part. 


As soon as the immediate game we were watching was fin- 
ished, the players rose, and greeted Lucio with a good deal of 
eagerness and effusion. I instinctively guessed from their 
manner that they looked upon him as an influential member 
of the club, a person likely to lend them money to gamble 
with, and otherwise to oblige them in various ways, financially 
speaking. He introduced me to them all, and I was not slow 
to perceive the effect my name had upon most of them. I 
was asked if I would join in a game of baccarat, and I readily 
consented. The stakes were ruinously high, but I had no 
need to falter for that. One of the players near me was a 
fair-haired young man, handsome in face and of aristocratic 
bearing, — he had been introduced to me as Viscount Lynton. 
I noticed him particularly on account of the reckless way he 
had of doubling his stakes suddenly and apparently out of 
mere bravado, and when he lost, as he mostly did, he laughed 
uproariously as though he were drunk or delirious. On first 
beginning to play I was entirely indifferent as to the results of 
the game, caring nothing at all as to whether I had losses or 
gains. Lucio did not join us, but sat apart, quietly observant, 
and watching me, so I fancied, more than anyone. And as 


chance would have it, all the luck came my way, and I won 
steadily. The more I won the more excited I became, till 
presently my humour changed and I was seized by a whimsical 
desire to lose. I suppose it was the touch of some better im- 
pulse in my nature that made me wish this for young Lynton's 
sake. For he seemed literally maddened by my constant 
winnings, and continued his foolhardy and desperate play, — 
his young face grew drawn and sharply thin, and his eyes 
glittered with a hungry feverishness. The other gamesters, 
though sharing in his run of ill-luck, seemed better able to 
stand it, or perhaps they concealed their feelings more cleverly, 
— anyhow I know I caught myself very earnestly wishing that 
this devil's luck of mine would desert me and set in the young 
Viscount's direction. But my wishes were no use, — again and 
again I gathered up the stakes, till at last the players rose. 
Viscount Lynton among them. 

" Well, I'm cleaned out !" he said, with a loud forced laugh. 
"You must give me my chance of a revanche to-morrow, Mr 
Tempest ! ' ' 

I bowed. 

" With pleasure !" 

He called a waiter at the end of the room to bring him a 
brandy-and-soda, and meanwhile I was surrounded by the rest 
of the men, all of them repeating the Viscount's suggestion of 
a 'revanche,' and strenuously urging upon me the necessity of 
returning to the club the next night in order to give them an 
opportunity of winning back what they had lost. I readily 
agreed, and while we were in the midst of talk, Lucio sud- 
denly addressed young Lynton. 

" Will you make up another game with me ?" he inquired. 
'Til start the bank with this," — and he placed two crisp notes 
of five hundred pounds each on the table. 

There was a moment's silence. The Viscount was thirstily 
drinking his brandy and-soda, and glanced over the rim of his 
tall tumbler at the notes with covetous bloodshot eyes, — then 
he shrugged his shoulders indifferently. " I can't stake any- 


thing," he said ; '' I've already told you I'm cleaned out, — • 
'stony-broke,' as the slang goes. It's no use my joining." 

''Sit down, sit down, Lynton !" urged one man near him. 
"I'll lend you enough to go on with." 

"Thanks, I'd rather not!" he returned, flushing a little. 
"I'm too much in your debt already. Awfully good of you 
all the same. You go on, you fellows, and I'll watch the 

" Let me persuade you. Viscount Lynton," said Lucio, look- 
ing at him with his dazzling inscrutable smile — "just for the 
fun of the thing ! If you do not feel justified in staking 
money, stake something trifling and merely nominal, for the 
sake of seeing whether the luck will turn" — and here he took 
up a counter — "This frequently represents fifty pounds, — let 
it represent for once something that is not valuable like money, 
— your soul, for example !" A burst of laughter broke from 
all the men. Lucio laughed softly with them. 

" We all have, I hope, enough instruction in modern science 
to be aware that there is no such thing as a soul in existence' ' 
— he continued. "Therefore, in proposing it as a stake for 
this game at baccarat, I really propose less than one hair of 
your head, because the hair is a something, and the soul is a 
nothing ! Come ! will you risk that non-existent quantity for 
the chance of winning a thousand pounds?" 

The Viscount drained off the last drop of brandy, and turned 
upon us, his eyes flashing mingled derision and defiance. 

" Done !" he exclaimed ; whereupon the party sat down. 

The game was brief, and in its rapid excitement almost 
breathless. Six or seven minutes sufficed and Lucio rose, the 
winner. He smiled as he pointed to the counter which had 
represented Viscount Lynton' s last stake. 

" I have won ! " he said quietly. " But you owe me nothing, 
my dear Viscount, inasmuch as you risked — Nothing ! We 
played this game simply for fun. If souls had any existence 
of course I should claim yours ; — I wonder what I should do 
with it by the way ! ' ' He laughed good-humouredly. " What 


nonsense, isn't it ! — and how thankful we ought to be that we 
live in advanced days like the present, when such silly super- 
stitions are being swept aside by the march of progress and 
pure Reason ! Good-night ! Tempest and I will give you your 
full revenge to-morrow, — the luck is sure to change by then, 
and you will probably have the victory. Again — good-night ! ' ' 

He held out his hand, — there was a peculiar melting tender- 
ness in his brilliant dark eyes, — an impressive kindness in his 
manner. Something — I could not tell what — held us all for 
the moment spellbound as if by enchantment, and several of 
the players at other tables, hearing of the eccentric stake 
that had been wagered and lost, looked over at us curiously 
from a distance. Viscount Lynton, however, professed him- 
self immensely diverted, and shook Lucio's proffered hand 

** You are an awfully good fellow !" he said, speaking a little 
thickly and hurriedly — ^' and I assure you seriously if I had a 
soul I should be very glad to part with it for a thousand pounds 
at the present moment. The soul wouldn't be an atom of use 
to me and the thousand pounds would. But I feel convinced 
I shall win to-morrow." 

*'I am equally sure you will!" returned Lucio affably; 
*' In the meantime, you will not find my friend here, Geoffrey 
Tempest, a hard creditor, — he can afford to wait. But in the 
case of the lost soul," — here he paused, looking straight into 
the young man's eyes, — *' of course /cannot afford to wait !" 

The Viscount smiled vaguely at this pleasantry, and almost 
immediately afterwards left the club. As soon as the door had 
closed behind him, several of the gamesters exchanged sen- 
tentious nods and glances. 

*' Ruined !" said one of them in a sotto-voce. 

''His gambling debts are more than he can ever pay" — 
added another — '' And I hear he has lost a clear fifty thousand 
on the turf." 

These remarks were made indifferently, as though one should 
talk of the weather, — no sympathy was expressed, — no pity 


wasted. Every gambler there was selfish to the core, and as 
I studied their hardened faces, a thrill of honest indignation 
moved me, — indignation mingled with shame. I was not yet 
altogether callous or cruel-hearted, though as I look back upon 
those days which now resemble a wild vision rather than a 
reality, I know that I was becoming more and more of a brutal 
egoist with every hour I lived. Still I was so far then from 
being utterly vile, that I inwardly resolved to write to Vis- 
count Lynton that very evening, and tell him to consider his 
debt to me cancelled, as I should refuse to claim it. While 
this thought was passing through my mind, I met Lucio's gaze 
fixed steadily upon me. He smiled, — and presently signed to 
me to accompany him. In a few minutes we had left the 
club, and were out in the cold night air under a heaven of 
frostily sparkling stars. Standing still for a moment, my com- 
panion laid his hand on my shoulder. 

''Tempest, if you are going to be kind-hearted or sympa- 
thetic to undeserving rascals, I shall have to part company with 
you !" he said, with a curious mixture of satire and serious- 
ness in his voice — " I see by the expression of your face that 
you are meditating some silly disinterested action of pure gen- 
erosity. Now you might just as well flop down on these 
paving stones and begin saying prayers in public. You want 
to let Lynton off his debt, — you are a fool for your pains. He 
is a born scoundrel, — and has never seen his way to being 
anything else, — why should you compassionate him? From 
the time he first went to college till now, he has been doing 
nothing but live a life of degraded sensuality, — he is a worth- 
less rake, less to be respected than an honest dog !" 

*' Yet some one loves him I daresay !" I said. 

" Some one loves him !" echoed Lucio, with inimitable dis- 
dain — " Bah ! Three ballet girls live on him if that is what 
you mean. His mother loved him, — but she is dead, — he 
broke her heart. He is no good I tell you, — let him pay his 
debt in full, even to the soul he staked so lightly. If I were 
the devil now, and had just won the strange game we played 


to-night, I suppose according to priestly tradition, I should 
be piling up the fire for Lynton in high glee, — but being what 
I am, I say let the man alone to make his own destiny, — let 
things take their course, — and as he chose to risk everything, 
so let him pay everything." 

We were by this time walking slowly into Pall-Mall, — I 
was on the point of making some reply, when catching sight 
of a man's figure on the opposite side of the way, not far 
from the Marlborough Club, I uttered an involuntary ex- 

*' Why there he is !" I said — " there is Viscount Lynton !" 

Lucio's hand closed tightly on my arm. 

*' You don't want to speak to him now surely !" 

''No. But I wonder where he's going? He walks rather 

" Drunk, most probably !" 

And Lucio's face presented the same relentless expression 
of scorn I had so often seen and marvelled at. 

We paused a moment, watching the Viscount strolling aim- 
lessly up and down in front of the clubs, — till all at once he 
seemed to come to a sudden resolution, and stopping short, he 


A silent-wheeled smart vehicle came bowling up immedi- 
ately. Giving some order to the driver, he jumped in. The 
cab approached swiftly in our direction, — just as it passed us 
the loud report of a pistol crashed on the silence. 

"Good God!" I cried reeling back a step or two — "He 
has shot himself ! ' ' 

The hansom stopped, — the driver sprang down,— club- 
porters, waiters, policemen and no end of people starting up 
from Heaven knows where, were on the scene on an instant, 
— I rushed forward to join the rapidly gathering throng, but 
before I could do so, Lucio's strong arm was thrown round 
me, and he dragged me by main force away. 

" Keep cool, Geoffrey !" he said—" Do you want to be called 


up to identify ? And betray the club and all its members ? 
Not while I am here to prevent you ! Check your mad 
impulses, my good fellow, — they will lead you into no end of 
difficulties. If the man's dead, he's dead and there's an end 
of it." 

" Lucio ! You have no heart!" I exclaimed, struggling 
violently to escape from his hold — '' How can you stop to 
reason in such a case ! Think of it ! / am the cause of all 
the mischief ! — it is my cursed luck at baccarat this evening 
that has been the final blow to the wretched young fellow's 
fortunes, — I am convinced of it 1 — I shall never forgive 
myself — ' ' 

'' Upon my word, Geoffrey, your conscience is very tender !" 
he answered, holding my arm still more closely, and hurrying 
me away despite myself — '' You must try and toughen it a 
little if you want to be successful in life. Your ' cursed luck' 
you think, has caused Lynton's death? Surely it is a contra- 
diction in terms to call luck 'cursed,' — and as for the Vis- 
count, he did not need that last game at baccarat to emphasize 
his ruin. You are not to blame. And for the sake of the 
club, if for nothing else, I do not intend either you or myself 
to be mixed up in a case of suicide. The coroner's verdict 
always disposes of these incidents comfortably in two words — 
'Temporary insanity.' " 

I shuddered. My soul sickened as I thought that within a 
few yards of us was the bleeding corpse of the man I had so 
lately seen alive and spoken with, — and notwithstanding Lu- 
cio's words, I felt as if I had murdered him. 

*' ' Temporary insanity,' " repeated Lucio again, as if speak- 
ing to himself — "All remorse, despair, outraged honour, 
wasted love, together with the scientific modern theory of 
Reasonable Nothingness — Life a Nothing, God a Nothing, — 
when these drive the distracted human unit to make of him- 
self also a nothing, ' temporary insanity' covers up his plunge 
into the infinite with an untruthful pleasantness. However, 
after all, it is as Shakespeare says, a mad world !" 
h 10* 


I made no answer. I was too overcome by my own miser- 
able sensations. 1 walked along almost unconscious of move- 
ment, and as I stared bewilderedly up at the stars they danced 
before my sight like fireflies whirling in a mist of miasma. 
Presently a faint hope occurred to me. 

'' Perhaps," I said, ''he has not really killed himself? It 
may be only an attempt ?' ' 

*'Hewas a capital shot" — returned Lucio composedly, — 
''That was his one quality. He had no principles — but he 
was a good marksman. I cannot imagine his missing aim." 

" It is horrible ! An hour ago alive, . . . and now . . . 
I tell you, Lucio, it is horrible ! ' ' 

" What is ? Death ? It is not half so horrible as Life lived 
wrongly" — he responded, with a gravity that impressed me 
in spite of my emotion and excitement — "Believe me, the 
mental sickness and confusion of a wilfully degraded ex- 
istence are worse tortures than are contained in the priestly 
notions of Hell. Come, come, Geoffrey, you take this matter 
too much to heart, — you are not to blame. If Lynton has 
given himself the ' happy dispatch' it is really the best thing 
he could do, — he was of no use to anybody, and he is well 
out of it. It is positively weak of you to attach importance 
to such a trifle. You are only at the beginning of your 
career " 

"Well, I hope that career will not lead me into any more 
such tragedies as the one enacted to-night," — I said passion- 
ately — " If it does, it will be entirely against my will." 

Lucio looked at me curiously. 

" Nothing can happen to you against your will," — he re- 
plied ; "I suppose you wish to imply that I am to blame for 
introducing you to the club ? My good fellow, you need not 
have gone there unless you had chosen to do so ! I did not 
bind and drag you there ! You are upset and unnerved, — 
come into my room and take a glass of wine, — you will feel 
more of a man afterwards." 

We had by this time reached the hotel, and I went with 


him passively. With equal passiveness I drank what he gave 
me, and stood, glass in hand, watching him with a kind of 
morbid fascination as he threw off his fur-lined overcoat and 
confronted me, his pale handsome face strangely set and stern, 
and his dark eyes glittering like cold steel. 

**That last stake of Lynton's, ... to you — " I said fal- 
teringly — " His soul " 

'' Wliich he did not believe in, and \Av\q}!lv you do not be- 
lieve in!" returned Lucio regarding me fixedly. ''Why do 
you now seem to tremble at a mere sentimental idea ? If fan- 
tastic notions such as God, the Soul, and the Devil were real 
facts, there would perhaps be cause for trembling, but being 
only the brainsick imaginations of superstitious mankind, 
there is nothing in them to awaken the slightest anxiety or 

'* But you" — I began — '' you say you believe in the soul ?" 

**I? I am brainsick!" and he laughed bitterly — ''Have 
you not found that out yet ? Much learning hath driven me 
mad, my friend ! Science has led me into such deep wells 
of dark discovery, that it is no wonder if my senses some- 
times reel, — and I believe — at insane moments — in the 

I sighed heavily. 

** I think I will go to bed," I answered. " I am tired out, 
— and absolutely miserable !" 

" Alas, poor millionaire !" said Lucio gently, — " I am sorry, 
I assure you, that the evening has ended so disastrously." 

" So am I !" I returned despondently. 

"Imagine it!" he went on, dreamily regarding me — "If 
my beliefs, — my crack-brained theories, — were worth any- 
thing^ — which they are not — I could claim the only positive 
existing part of our late acquaintance Viscount Lynton I But, 
— where and how to send in my account with him ? If I were 
Satan now ..." 

I forced a faint smile. 

" You would have cause to rejoice !" I said. 


He moved two paces towards me, and laid his hands gently 
on my shoulders. 

"No, Geoffrey" — and his rich voice had a strange soft 
music in it — *' No, my friend ! If I were Satan, I should 
probably lament ! — for every lost soul would of necessity 
remind me of my own fall, my own despair, — and set another 
bar between myself and heaven ! Remember, — the very 
Devil was an Angel once ! ' ' 

His eyes smiled, and yet I could have sworn there were 
tears in them. I wrung his hand hard, — I felt that nothwith- 
standing his assumed coldness and cynicism, the fate of young 
Lynton had affected him profoundly. My liking for him 
gained new fervour from this impression, and I went to bed 
more at ease with myself and things in general. During the 
few minutes I spent in undressing I became even able to con- 
template the tragedy of the evening with less regret and greater 
calmness, — for it was certainly no use worrying over the irrev- 
ocable, — and, after all, what interest had the Viscount's life 
for me ? None. I began to ridicule myself for my own weak- 
ness and disinterested emotion, — and presently, being thor- 
oughly fatigued, fell sound asleep. Towards morning however, 
perhaps about four or five o'clock, I woke suddenly as though 
touched by an invisible hand. I was shivering violently, and 
my body was bathed in a cold perspiration. In the otherwise 
dark room there was something strangely luminous, like a cloud 
of white smoke or fire. I started up, rubbing my eyes, — and 
stared before me for a moment, doubting the evidence of my 
own senses. For, plainly visible and substantially distinct, 
at a distance of perhaps five paces from my bed stood three 
Figures, muffled in dark garments and closely hooded. So 
solemnly inert they were, — so heavily did their sable draperies 
fall about them that it was impossible to tell whether they were 
men or women, — but what paralyzed me with amazement and 
terror was the strange light that played around and above them, 
— the spectral, wandering chill radiance that illumined them 
like the rays of a faint wintry moon. I strove to cry out, — 


but my tongue refused to obey me — and my voice was strangled 
in my throat. The Three remained absokitely motionless, — • 
and again I rubbed my eyes, wondering if this were a dream 
or some hideous optical delusion. Trembling in every limb, I 
stretched my hand towards the bell, intending to ring violently 
for assistance, — when — a Voice, low and thrilling with intense 
anguish caused me to shrink back appalled, and my arm fell 
nerveless at my side. 

''Misery !'' 

The word struck the air with a harsh reproachful clang, and 
I nearly swooned with the horror of it. For now one of the 
Figures moved, and a face gleamed out from beneath its 
hooded wrappings — a face white as whitest marble and fixed 
into such an expression of dreadful despair as froze ray blood. 
Then came a deep sigh that was more like a death-groan, and 
again the word ''Misery !'' shuddered upon the silence ! 

Mad with fear and scarcely knowing what I did, I sprang 
from the bed, and began desperately to advance upon these 
fantastic masqueraders, determined to seize them and demand 
the meaning of this practical and untimely jest, — when sud- 
denly all three lifted their heads and turned their faces on me, 
— such faces ! — indescribably awful in their pallid agony, — and 
a whisper more ghastly than a shriek, penetrated the very fibres 
of my consciousness — "Misery !^' 

With a furious bound I flung myself upon them, — my 
hands struck empty space ! Yet there — distinct as ever — they 
stood, glowering down upon me, while my clenched fists beat 
impotently through and beyond their seeming corporeal 
shapes ! And then — all at once — I became aware of their 
eyes, — eyes that watched me pitilessly, stedfastly, and disdain- 
fully, — eyes, that like witch-fires, seemed to slowly burn terrific 
meanings into my very flesh and spirit. Convulsed and almost 
frantic with the strain on my nerves, I abandoned myself to 
despair, — this ghastly sight meant death I thought, — my last 
hour had surely come ! Then — I saw the lips of one of those 
dreadful faces move . . . some superhuman instinct in me 


leaped to life, ... in some strange way I thought I knew, or 
guessed the horror of what that next utterance would be, . . . 
and with all my remaining force I cried out, — 

*' No ! No ! Not that eternal Doom ! Not yet !" 
Fighting the vacant air, I strove to beat back those intangi- 
ble awful Shapes that loomed above me, withering up my soul 
with the fixed stare of their angry eyes, and with a choking 
call for help, I fell, as it were, into a pit of darkness where I 
lay, mercifully unconscious. 


How the ensuing hours between this horrible episode and 
full morning elapsed I do not know. I was dead to all im- 
pressions. I woke at last, or rather recovered my senses to 
see the sunlight pouring pleasantly through the half-drawn 
curtains at my window, and to find myself in bed in as restful 
a position as though I had never left it. Was it then merely 
a vision I had seen? — a ghastly sort of nightmare? If so it 
was surely the most abhorrent illusion ever evolved from dream- 
land ! It could not be a question of health, for I had never 
felt better in my life. I lay for some time quiescent, thinking 
over the matter, with my eyes fixed on that part of the room 
where those Three Shapes had seemingly stood ; but I had 
lately got into such a habit of cool self-analysis, that by the 
time my valet brought my early cup of coffee, I had decided 
that the whole thing was a dreadful fantasy, born of my own 
imagination, which had no doubt been unduly excited by the 
affair of Viscount Lynton's suicide. I soon learned that there 
was no room left for doubt as to that unhappy young noble- 
man's actual death. A brief account of it was in the morning 
papers, though as the tragedy had occurred so late at night, 
there were no details. A vague hint of ' money difficulties' 
was thrown out in one journal, — but beyond that, and the 


statement that the body had been conveyed to the mortuary 
there to await an inquest, there was nothing said either per- 
sonal or particular. I found Lucio in the smoking-room, and 
it was he who first silently pointed out to me the short para- 
graph headed ' Suicide of a Viscount. ' 

'* I told you he was a good shot !" he commented. 

I nodded. Somehow I had ceased to feel much interest in 
the subject. My emotion of the previous evening had appar- 
ently exhausted all my stock of sympathy and left me coldly 
indifferent. Absorbed in myself and my own concerns I sat 
down to talk, and was not long before I had given a full and 
circumstantial account of the spectral illusion which had so 
unpleasantly troubled me during the night. Lucio listened, 
smiling oddly. 

''That old Tokay was evidently too strong for you !' ' he 
said, when I had concluded my story. 

"Did you me give old Tokay?" I responded laughing — 
" Then the mystery is explained ! I was already overwrought, 
and needed no stimulant. But what tricks the imagination 
plays us to be sure ! You have no idea of the distinct 
manner in which those three phantoms asserted themselves ! 
The impression was extraordinarily vivid." 

"No doubt!" And his dark eyes studied me curiously. 
"Impressions often are very vivid. See what a marvellously 
real impression this world makes upon us, for example !" 

"Ah ! But then the world is real !" I answered. 

"Is it? You accept it as such, I daresay, and things are 
as they appear to each separate individual. No two human 
beings think alike ; hence there may be conflicting opinions 
as to the reality or non-reality of this present world. But 
we will not take unnecessary plunges into the infinite ques- 
tion of what IS, as contrasted with what appears to be. I 
have some letters here for your consideration. You have 
lately spoken of buying a country estate — what say you to 
Willowsmere Court in Warwickshire? I have had my eye 
on that place for you, — it seems to me just the very thing. 


It is a magnificent old pile ; part of it dates from Elizabeth's 
time. It is in excellent repair, the grounds are most pic- 
turesque ; the classic river Avon winds with rather a broad 
sweep through the park, — and the whole thing, with a great 
part of the furniture included, is to be sold for a mere song ; 
— fifty thousand pounds cash. I think you had better go in 
for it ; it would just suit your literary and poetic tastes." 

Was it my fancy, or had his musical voice the faintest touch 
of a sneer as he uttered the last words ? I would not allow 
myself to think this possible, and answered quickly, — 

' ' Anything you recommend must be worth looking at, and 
I'll certainly go and see it. The description sounds well, and 
Shakespeare's country always appeals to me. But wouldn't 
you like to secure it for yourself?" 

He laughed. 

" Not I ! I live nowhere for long. I am of a roving dis- 
position, and am never happy tied down to one corner of 
the earth. But I suggest Willowsmere to you for two reasons, 
— first, that it is charming and perfectly appointed ; secondly, 
that it will impress Lord Elton considerably if he knows you 
are going to buy it." 


'' Why, because it used to be his property" — returned Lucio 
quietly — "till he got into the hands of the Jews. He gave 
them Willowsmere as security for loans, and latterly they 
have stepped in as owners. They've sold most of the pic- 
tures, china, bric-a-brac and other valuables. By the way, 
have you noticed how the legended God still appears to 
protect the house of Israel ? Particularly the ' base usurer' 
who is allowed to get the unhappy Christian into his clutches 
nine times out of ten ? And no remedy drops from heaven ! 
The Jew always triumphs. Rather inconsistent isn't it, on 
the part of an equitable Deity!" His eyes flashed strange 
scorn. Anon he resumed — ''As a result of Lord Elton's un- 
fortunate speculations, and the Jews' admirable shrewdness, 
Willowsmere, as I tell you, is in the market, and fifty thou- 


sand pounds will make you the envied owner of a place worth 
a hundred thousand." 

''We dine at the Eltons* to-night, do we not?" I asked 

" We do. You cannot have forgotten tliat engagement and 
Lady Sibyl so soon surely !" he answered laughing. 

"No, I have not forgotten" — I said at last, after a little 
silence. " And I will buy this Willowsmere. I will telegraph 
instructions to my lawyers at once. Will you give me the 
name and address of the agents?" 

'' With pleasure, my dear boy !" And Lucio handed me a 
letter containing the particulars concerning the sale of the 
estate and other items. "But are you not making up your 
mind rather suddenly? Hadn't you better inspect the 
property first ? There may be things you object to ' ' 

"If it were a rat-infested barrack," I said resolutely — "I 
would still buy it ! I shall settle the matter at once. I wish 
to let Lord Elton know this very night that I am the future 
owner of Willowsmere !" 

" Good !" — and my companion thrust his arm through mine 
as we left the smoking-room together — " I like your swiftness 
of action, Geoffrey. It is admirable ! I always respect de- 
termination. Even if a man makes up his mind to go to 
hell, I honour him for keeping to his word, and going there 
straight as a die ! ' ' 

I laughed, and we parted in high good-humour, — he to fulfil 
a club engagement, I to telegraph precise instructions to my 
legal friends Messrs Bentham and Ellis, for the immediate 
purchase in my name at all costs, risks or inconveniences, 
of the estate known as Willowsmere Court in the county of 

That evening I dressed with more than common care, giving 
my man Morris almost as much trouble as if I had been a 
fidgety woman. He waited upon me however with exemplary 
patience, and only when I was quite ready did he venture to 
utter what had evidently been on his mind for some time. 



"Excuse me, sir"— he then observed— '' but I daresay 
you've noticed that there's something unpleasant-like about 
the prince's valet, Amiel ?" 

*' Well, he's rather a down-looking fellow if that's what you 
mean" — I replied — ''But I suppose there's no harm in him." 

" I don't know about that, sir" — answered Morris severely ; 
" He does a great many strange things I do assure you. 
Downstairs with the servants he goes on something sur- 
prising. Sings and acts and dances too as if he were a whole 

"Really !" I exclaimed in surprise— "I should never have 
thought it." 

" Nor should I, sir, but it's a fact." 

" He must be rather an amusing fellow then," — I continued, 
wondering that my man should take the accomplishments of 
Amiel in such an injured manner. 

" Oh, I don't say anything against his amusingness," — and 
Morris rubbed his nose with a doubtful air — "It's all very 
well for him to cut capers and make himself agreeable if he 
likes, — but it's the deceit of him that surprises me, sir. 
You'd think to look at him, that he was a decent sort of 
dull chap with no ideas beyond his duty, but really, sir, it's 
quite the contrary, if you'll believe me. The language he 
uses when he's up to his games downstairs is something 
frightful ! and he actually swears he learnt it from the 
gentlemen of the turf, sir ! Last night he was play acting 
and taking off all the fashionable folks, — then he took to hyp- 
notising — and upon my word it made my blood run cold." 

"Why, what did he do?" I asked with some curiosity. 

" Well, sir, he took one of the scullery-maids and set her 
in a chair and just pointed at her. Pointed at her and 
grinned, for all the world like a devil out of a pantomime. 
And though she is generally a respectable sober young woman, 
if she didn't get up with a screech and commence dancing 
round and round like a lunatic, while he kept on pointing. 
And presently she got to jumping and lifting her skirts that 


high that it was positively scandalous ! Some of us tried 
to stop her and couldn't; she was like mad, till all at once 
number twenty-two bell rang — that's the prince's room, — 
and he just caught hold of her, set her down in her chair 
again, and clapped his hands. She came to directly, and 
didn't know a bit what she'd been doing. Then twenty- 
two bell rang again, and the fellow rolled up his eyes like a 
clergyman and said, ' Let us pray !' and off he went." 

I laughed. 

" He seems to have a share of humour at anyrate" — I said ; 
"I should not have thought it of him. But do you think 
these antics of his are mischievous?" 

" Well that scullery girl is very ill to-day" — replied Morris ; 
"I expect she'll have to leave. She has what she calls the 
'jumps' and none of us dare tell her how she got them. No 
sir, believe me or not as you like, there's something very 
queer about that Amiel. And another thing I want to know 
is this — what does he do with the other servants?" 

** What does he do with the other servants?" I repeated 
bewilderedly — " What on earth do you mean?" 

''Well sir, the prince has a c/ief of his own hasn't he?" 
said Morris enumerating on his fingers — "And two personal 
attendants besides Amiel, — quiet fellows enough who help 
in the waiting. Then he has a coachman and groom. That 
makes six servants altogether. Now none of these except 
Amiel are ever seen in the hotel kitchens. The c/ief sends 
all the meals in from somewhere, in a heated receptacle — 
and the two other fellows are never seen except when waiting 
at table, and they don't live in their own rooms all day though 
they may sleep there, — and nobody knows where the carriage 
and horses are put up, or where the coachman and groom 
lodge. Certain it is that both they and the c/ie/ board out. 
It seems to me very mysterious." 

I began to feel quite unreasonably irritated. 

" Look here, Morris," I said — " There's nothing more use- 
less or more harmful than the habit of inquiring into other 


people's affairs. The prince has a right to live as he likes, 
and do as he pleases with his servants — I am sure he pays 
royally for his privileges. And whether his cook lives in or 
out, up in the skies or down in a cellar, is no matter of mine. 
He has been a great traveller, and no doubt has his pecu- 
liarities ; and probably his notions concerning food are very 
particular and fastidious. But I don't want to know any- 
thing about his menage. If you dislike Amiel, it's easy to 
avoid him, but for goodness' sake don't go making mysteries 
where none exist." 

Morris looked up, then down, and folded one of my coats 
with special care. I saw I had effectually checked his flow of 

^' Very well, sir," — he observed, and said no more. 

I was rather diverted than otherwise at my servant's solemn 
account of Amiel' s peculiarities as exhibited among his own 
class,— and when we were driving to Lord Elton's that evening 
I told something of the story to Lucio. He laughed. 

" Amiel' s spirits are often too much for him" — he said — 
'* He is a perfect imp of mischief and cannot always control 

" Why, what a wrong estimate I have formed of him !" I 
said — ''I thought he had a peculiarly grave and somewhat 
sullen disposition." 

''You know the trite saying — appearances are deceptive?" 
went on my companion lightly — "It's extremely true. The 
professed humourist is nearly always a disagreeable and 
heavy man personally. As for Amiel, he is like me in the 
respect of not being at all what he seems. His only fault is 
a tendency to break the bounds of discipline, but otherwise 
he serves me well, and I do not inquire further. Is Morris 
disgusted or alarmed?" 

''Neither I think," I responded laughing— " He merely 
presents himself to me as an example of outraged respect- 

"Ah then, you may be sure that when the scullery-maid 


was dancing, he observed her steps with the closest nicety," 
said Lucio. *' Very respectable men are always particular of 
inspection into these matters ! Soothe his ruffled feelings, 
my dear Geoffrey, and tell him that Amiel is the very soul 
of virtue ! I have had him in my service for a long time, 
and can urge nothing against his character as a man. He 
does not pretend to be an angel. His tricks of speech and 
behaviour are the result of a too constant repression of his 
natural hilarity, but he is really an excellent fellow. He 
dabbled in hypnotic science when he was with me in India ; 
I have often warned him of the danger there is in practising 
this force on the uninitiated. But — a scullery-maid ! — 
heavens, there are so many scullery-maids ! One more or 
less with the 'jumps' will not matter. This is Lord Elton's." 

The carriage stopped before a handsome house situated a 
little back from Park Lane. We were admitted by a man- 
servant gorgeous in red plush, white silk hose, and powdered 
wig, who passed us on majestically to his twin-brother in 
height and appearance, though perhaps a trifle more disdain- 
ful in bearing, and he in his turn ushered us upstairs with the 
air of one who should say, ^' See to what ignominious degrada- 
tion a cruel fate reduces so great a man !" In the drawing- 
room we found Lord Elton, standing on the hearth-rug with 
his back to the fire, and directly opposite him, in a low arm- 
chair, reclined an elegantly attired young lady with very small 
feet. I mention the feet because as I entered they were the 
most prominent part of her person, being well stretched out 
from beneath the would-be concealment of sundry flounced 
petticoats towards the warmth of the fire, which the Earl 
rather inconsiderately screened from view. There was another 
lady in the room sitting bolt upright with hands neatly folded 
on her lap, and to her we were first of all introduced when 
Lord Elton's own effusive greetings were over. 

" Charlotte, allow me, — my friends, Prince Lucio Rimanez ; 
Mr Geoffrey Tempest ; gentlemen, my &ister-in-law, Miss 
Charlotte Fitzroy." 



We bowed ; the lady gave us a dignified bend of the head. 
She was an imposing looking spinster, with a curious expres- 
sion on her features which was difficult to construe. It was 
pious and prim ; but it also suggested the idea that she must 
have seen something excessively improper once in her life and 
had never been able to forget it. The pursed-up mouth, the 
round pale-coloured eyes and the chronic air of insulted virtue 
which seemed to pervade her from head to foot all helped to 
deepen this impression. One could not look at Miss Charlotte 
long without beginning to wonder irreverently what it was that 
had, in her long past youth, so outraged the cleanly proprieties 
of her nature as to leave such indelible traces on her counte- 
nance. But I have since seen many English AvomCn look so, 
especially among the particularly * high bred,' old and plain- 
featured of the ''upper ten." Very different was the saucy 
and bright physiognomy of the younger lady to whom we 
were next presented, and who, raising herself languidly from 
her reclining position, smiled at us with encouraging famili- 
arity as we made our salutations. 

"Miss Diana Chesney," said the Earl glibly. ''You per- 
haps know her father, prince, — you must have heard of him 
at any rate, — the famous Nicodemus Chesney, one of the great 

"Of course I kn ow him, ' ' responded Lucio warmly. ' ' Who 
does not ! I have met him often. A charming man, gifted 
with most remarkable humour and vitality, — I remember him 
perfectly. We saw a good deal of each other in Washing- 

"Did you, though?" said Miss Chesney with a somewhat 
indifferent interest. " He's a queer sort of man to my think- 
ing; rather a cross between the ticket-collector and custom- 
house officer combined, you know ! I never see him but 
what I feel I must start on a journey directly — railways seem 
to be written all over him. I tell him so. I say, ' Pa, if you 
didn't carry railway-tracks in your face you'd be better look- 
ing.' And you found him humorous, did you?" 


Laughing at the novel and free way in which this young 
person criticised her parent, Lucio protested that he did. 

*' Well I don't," confessed Miss Chesney: '' But that may 
be because I've heard all his stories over and over again, and 
I've read most of them in books besides, — so they're not 
much account to me. He tells some of them to the Prince of 
Wales whenever he can get a chance, — but he don't try them 
off on me any more. He's a real clever man too ; he's made 
his pile quicker than most. And you're quite right about his 
vitality, — my ! — his laugh takes you into the middle of next 

Her bright eyes flashed merrily as she took a comprehen- 
sive survey of our, amused faces. 

"Think I'm irreverent, don't you?" she went on. ''But 
you know Pa's not a 'stage parent,' all dressed out in lovely 
white hair and benedictions, — he's just an accommodating 
railway-track, and he wouldn't like to be reverenced. Do 
sit down, won't you?" Then turning her pretty head coquet- 
tishly towards her host, — " Make them sit down. Lord Elton, 
— I hate to see men standing. The superior sex you know ! 
Besides, you're so tall," she added, glancing with unconcealed 
admiration at Lucio's handsome face and figure, "that it's 
like peering up an apple-tree at the moon to look at you !" 

Lucio laughed heartily and seated himself near her ; I fol- 
lowed his example ; the old Earl still kept his position, legs 
a-straddle, on the hearth-rug, and beamed benevolence upon 
us all. Certainly Diana Chesney was a captivating creature; 
one of those surface-clever American women who distinctly 
divert men's minds, without in the least rousing their passions. 

"So you're the famous Mr Tempest?" she said, surveying 
me critically. "Why, it's simply splendid for you, isn't it? 
I always say it's no use having a heap of money unless you're 
young, — if you're old, you only want it to fill your doctor's 
pockets while he tries to mend your tuckered-out constitu- 
tion. I once knew an old lady who was left a legacy of a 
hundred thousand pounds when she was ninety-five. Poor 


old dear, she cried over it. She just had sense enough to 
understand what a good time she couldn't have. She lived 
in bed, and her only luxury was a halfpenny bun dipped in 
milk for her tea. It was all she cared for. ' ' 

"A hundred thousand pounds would go a long way in 
buns !" I said smiling. 

'' Wouldn't it just !" and the fair Diana laughed. '' But I 
guess jw/// want something a little more substantial for your 
cash, Mr Tempest. A fortune in the prime of life is worth 
having. I suppose you're one of the richest men about just 
now, aren't you?" 

She put the question in a perfectly naive frank manner, and 
seemed to be unconscious of any undue inquisitiveness in it. 

''I may be one of the richest," I replied, and as I spoke 
the thought flashed suddenly across me how recently I had 
been one of the poorest ! — ''but my friend here, the prince, 
is far richer than I." 

''Is that so!" and she stared straight at Lucio, who met 
her gaze with an indulgent, half satirical smile. " Well now ! 
I guess Pa's no better than a sort of pauper after all ! Why, 
you must have the world at your feet ! ' ' 

" Pretty much so," replied Lucio composedly. " But then, 
my dear Miss Chesney, the world is so very easily brought to 
one's feet. Surely, you know that?" 

And he emphasized the words by an expressive look of his 
fine eyes. 

"I guess you mean compliments," she replied unconcern- 
edly. " I don't like them as a rule, but I'll forgive you this 
once !" 

"Do!" said Lucio with one of his dazzling smiles that 
caused her to stop for a moment in her voluble chatter, and 
observe him with mingled fascination and wonderment. 

"And you too are young, like Mr Tempest," she re- 
sumed presently. 

"Pardon me!" interrupted Lucio; "I am many years 


''Really!" exclaimed Lord Elton at this juncture. ''You 
don't look it, — does he, Charlotte?" 

Miss Fitzroy, thus appealed to, raised her elegant tortoise- 
shell-framed glasses to her eyes and peered critically at us 

" I should imagine the prince to be slightly the senior of 
Mr Tempest," she remarked in precise, high-bred accents, 
— "but only very slightly." 

"'Anyhow," resumed Miss Chesney, " you're young enough 
to enjoy your wealth, aren't you?" 

"Young enough, or old enough, — ^just as you please," 
said Lucio with a careless shrug. " But, as it happens, I do 
not enjoy it." 

Miss Chesney's whole aspect now expressed the most lively 

" What does money do for you?" went on Lucio, his eyes 
dilating with that strange and wistful expression which had 
often excited my curiosity. "The world is at your feet, 
perhaps ; yes — but what a world ! What a trumpery clod of 
kickable matter ! Wealth acts merely as a kind of mirror to 
show you human nature at its worst. Men skulk and fawn 
about you, and lie twenty times in as many hours, in the hope 
to propitiate you and serve their own interests ; the princes of 
the blood willingly degrade themselves and their position to 
borrow cash of you, — your intrinsic merit (if you have any) 
is thought nothing of, — your full pockets are your credentials 
with kings, prime ministers and councillors. You may talk 
like a fool, laugh like a hyena and look like a baboon, but if 
the chink-chink of your gold be only sufficiently loud, you 
may soon find yourself dining with the Queen if such be your 
ambition. If, on the contrary you happen to be truly great, 
brave, patient, and enduring, with a spark in you of that 
genius which strengthens life and makes it better worth living, 
— if you have thoughts which take shape in work that shall 
endure when kingdoms are swept away like dust before the 
wind, — and if, with all this you are yet poor in current coin, 


— why then, you shall be spurned by all the crowned dummies 
of the world, — you shall be snubbed by the affluent starch- 
maker, and the Croesus who lives on a patent pill,— the trades- 
man from whom you buy bedsteads and kitchen ware can look 
down upon you with lordly scorn, for does he not, by virtue of 
his wealth alone, drive a four-in-hand, and chat on easy and 
almost patronizing terms with the Prince of Wales ? The 
wealthy denizens of Snob land delight in ignoring Nature's 
elected noblemen." 

''But supposing," said Miss Chesney quickly, ''you hap- 
pen to be a Nature's nobleman yourself, and have the advantage 
of wealth besides, surely you must fairly allow that to be 
rather a good thing, mustn't you?" 

Lucio laughed a little. 

" I will retort upon you in your own words, fair lady, and 
say, ' I guess you mean compliments. ' What I venture to 
imply, however, is that even when wealth does fall to the lot 
of one of these 'Nature's noblemen,' it is not because of his 
innate nobility that he wins social distinction. It is simply 
because he is rich. That is what vexes me. I, for example, 
have endless friends who are not my friends so much as the 
friends of my income. They do not trouble to inquire as to 
my antecedents, — what I am, or where I came from, is of no 
importance. Neither are they concerned in how I live or what 
I do ; whether I am sick or well, happy or unhappy, is equally 
with them a matter of indifference. If they knew more about 
me, it would perhaps be better in the long run. But they do 
not want to know, — their aims are simple and unconcealed, — 
they wish to make as much out of me, and secure as much ad- 
vantage to themselves by their acquaintance with me as pos- 
sible. And I give them their full way, — they get all they 
want, — and more !" 

His musical voice lingered with a curiously melancholy im- 
pressiveness on the last word, — and this time, not only Miss 
Chesney, but we all, looked at him as though drawn by some 
irresistible magnetic spell, and for a moment there was silence. 


"Very few people have any real friends," said Lord Elton 
presently. "And in that respect I suppose we're none of us 
worse off than Socrates, who used to keep two chairs only in 
his house, — * one for myself and another for a friend — when I 
find him !' But you are a universal favourite, Lucio, — a most 
popular fellow, — and I think you're rather hard on your set. 
People must look after themselves you know — eh?" 

Lucio bowed his head gravely. 

" They must indeed," he replied ; " especially as the latest 
news of science is that God has given up the business." 

Miss Fitzroy looked displeased, but the Earl laughed up- 
roariously. At that moment a step was heard outside, ap- 
proaching the open doorway of the drawing-room, and Miss 
Chesney's quick ears caught the sound. She shook herself 
out of her reclining attitude instantly and sat erect, 

"It's Sibyl !" she said with a half-laughing, half- apologetic 
flash of her brown eyes at us all. "I never can loll before 

My heart beat fast, as the woman whom poets might have 
called the goddess of their dreams, but whom I was now dis- 
posed to consider as an object of beauty lawfully open to my 
purchase, entered, clad in simple white, unrelieved by any 
ornaments save a golden waistbelt of antique workmanship, 
and a knot of violets nestled among the lace at her bosom. 
She looked far lovelier than when I had first seen her at the 
theatre ; there was a deeper light in her eyes and a more 
roseate flush on her cheeks, while her smile as she greeted us 
was positively dazzling. Something in her presence, her 
movements, her manner, sent such a tide of passion through 
me that for a moment my brain whirled in a dizzy maze, and 
despite the cold calculations I had made in my own mind as 
to the certainty I had of winning her for my wife, there was a 
wondrous charm of delicate dignity and unapproachableness 
about her that caused me for the moment to feel ashamed, 
and inclined to doubt even the power of wealth to move this 
exquisite lily of maidenhood from her sequestered peace. 


Ah, what fools men are ! How little do we dream of the 
canker at the hearts of these women ' lilies' that look so pure 
and full of grace ! 

* ' You are late, Sibyl ! ' ' said her aunt severely. 

'' Am I?" she responded with languid indifference. " So 
sorry ! Papa, are you an extemporized fire-screen ?' ' 

Lord Elton hastily moved to one side, rendered suddenly 
conscious of his selfish monopoly of the blaze. 

''Are you not cold Miss Chesney?" continued Lady Sibyl 
in accents of studied courtesy. ''Would you not like to come 
nearer the fire?" 

Diana Chesney had become quite subdued, almost timid in 

" Thank you !" she murmured, and her eyes dropped with 
what might have been called retiring maiden modesty, had 
not Miss Chesney's qualities soared far beyond that trite de- 

" We heard some shocking news this morning, Mr Tempest," 
said Lady Sibyl, looking at Lucio rather than at me. " No 
doubt you read it in the papers : an acquaintance of ours, 
Viscount Lynton, shot himself last night." 

I could not repress a slight start. Lucio gave me a warning 
glance, and took it upon himself to reply. 

" Yes, I read a brief account of the affair — terrible indeed ! 
I also knew him slightly." 

" Did you? Well, he was engaged to a friend of mine," 
went on Lady Sibyl. "I myself think she has had a lucky 
escape, because though he was an agreeable man enough in 
society, he was a great gambler, and very extravagant, and he 
would have run through her fortune very quickly. But she 
cannot be brought to see it in that light, — she is dreadfully 
upset. She had set her heart on being a Viscountess." 

"I guess," said Miss Chesney demurely, with a sly sparkle 
of her eyes, "it's not only Americans who run after titles. 
Since I've been over here I've known several real nice girls 
marry downright mean dough-heads just for the sake of being 


called ' my lady' or ' your grace. ' I like a title very well 
myself — but I also like a man attached to it. ' ' 

The Earl smothered a chuckling laugh. Lady Sibyl gazed 
meditatively into the fire, and went on as though she had not 

"Of course my friend will have other chances, — she is 
young and handsome ; but I really think, apart from the 
social point of view, that she was a little in love with the 
Viscount " 

" Nonsense ! nonsense !" said her father somewhat testily ; 
" you always have some romantic notion or other in your head, 
Sibyl, — one ^season' ought to have cured you of sentiment 
— ha-ha-ha ! She always knew he was a dissolute rascal, and 
she was going to marry him with her eyes wide open to the 
fact. When I read in the papers that he had blown his brains 
out in a hansom, I said, ' Bad taste, bad taste ! spoiling a 
poor cabby's stock-in-trade to satisfy a selfish whim !' ha-ha ! 
but I thought it was a good riddance of bad rubbish. He 
would have made any woman's life utterly miserable." 

*' No doubt he would!" responded Lady Sibyl listlessly. 
*' But, all the same, there is such a thing as love sometimes." 
She raised her beautiful liquid eyes to Lucio's face, but he 
was not looking her way, and her stedfast gaze met mine 
instead. What my looks expressed I know not ; but I saw 
the rich blood mantle warmly in her cheeks, and a tremor 
seemed to pass through her frame, — then she grew very pale. 
At that moment one of the gorgeous footmen appeared at the 

'' Dinner is served, my lud." 

" Good !" and the Earl proceeded to ' pair' us all. ^' Prince, 
will you take Miss Fitzroy, — Mr Tempest, my daughter falls 
to your escort, — I will follow with Miss Chesney." 

We set off in this order down the stairs, and as I walked 
behind Lucio with Lady Sibyl on my arm, I could not help 
smiling at the extreme gravity and earnestness with which 
he was discussing church matters with Miss Charlotte, and 


the sudden enthusiasm that apparently seized that dignified 
spinster at some of his remarks on the clergy, which took the 
form of the most affectionate and respectful eulogies, and were 
totally the reverse of the ideas he had exchanged with me on 
the same subject. Some spirit of mischief was evidently 
moving him to have a solemn joke with the high-bred lady 
he escorted, and I noted his behaviour with a good deal of 
inward amusement. 

*' Then you know the dear Canon ?" I heard Miss Charlotte 

''Most intimately!" replied Lucio with fervour; ''and I 
assure you I am thankful to have the privilege of knowing 
him. A truly perfect man ! — almost a saint — if not quite !" 

" So pure-minded !" sighed the spinster. 

" So free from every taint of hypocrisy !" murmured Lucio 
with intense gravity. 

"Ah, yes ! Yes, indeed ! And so " 

Here they passed into the dining-room and I could hear 
no more. I followed with my beautiful partner, and in another 
minute we were all seated at table. 


The dinner went on in the fashion of most dinners at great 
houses, — commencing with arctic stiffness and formality, thaw- 
ing slightly towards the middle course, and attaining to just a 
pleasant warmth of mutual understanding when ices and des- 
sert give warning of its approaching close. Conversation at 
first flagged unaccountably, but afterwards brightened under 
Lucio's influence to a certain gaiety. I did my best to enter- 
tain Lady Sibyl, but found her like most ' society' beauties, 
somewhat of a vague listener. She was certainly cold, and 
in a manner irresponsive, — moreover, I soon decided that she 
was not particularly clever. She had not the art of sustaining 


or appearing to sustain interest in any one subject ; on the 
contrary, she had, like many of her class, an irritating habit 
of mentally drifting away from you into an absorbed reverie 
of her own in which you had no part, and which plainly 
showed you how little she cared for anything you or anyone 
else happened to be saying. Many little random remarks of 
hers, however, implied that in her apparently sweet nature there 
lurked a vein of cynicism and a certain contempt for men, 
and more than once her light words stung my sense of self- 
love almost to resentment, while they strengthened the force 
of my resolve to win her and bend that proud spirit of hers 
to the meekness befitting the wife of a millionaire and — a 
genius. A genius ? Yes, — God help me ! — that is what I 
judged myself to be. My arrogance was two-fold, — it arose 
not only from what I imagined to be my quality of brain, but 
also from the knowledge of what my wealth could do. I was 
perfectly positive that I could buy Fame, — buy it as easily as 
one buys a flower in the market, — and I was more than 
positive that I could buy love. In order to commence 
proving the truth of this, I threw out a * feeler' towards my 

''I believe," I said suddenly, addressing the Earl, ''you 
used to live in Warwickshire, at Willowsmere Court, did you 

Lord Elton flushed an apoplectic red and swallowed a gulp 
of champagne hastily. 

" Yes-er-yes. I — er had the place for some time, — rather a 
bore to keep up, — wants quite an army of servants." 

''Just so, " I replied with a nod of appreciative compre- 
hension. " I presume it will require a considerable domestic 
retinue. I have just arranged to purchase it." 

Lady Sibyl's frigid composure was at last disturbed, — she 
looked strangely agitated, — and the Earl stared till his eyes 
seemed likely to fall out of his head. 

"You? You are going to buy Willowsmere?" he ejacu- 


*' Yes. I have wired to my lawyers to settle the matter as 
quickly as possible," — and I glanced at Lucio, whose steel- 
bright eyes were fixed on the Earl with curious intentness. 
"I like Warwickshire, — and as I shall entertain a great deal, 
I think the place will suit me perfectly." 

There was a moment's silence. Miss Charlotte Fitzroy 
sighed deeply, and the lace bow on her severely parted hair 
trembled visibly. Diana Chesney looked up with inquisitive 
eyes and a little wondering smile. 

''Sibyl was born at Willowsmere," said the Earl presently 
in rather a husky voice. 

''Anew charm is added to its possession by that know- 
ledge," I said gently, bowing to Lady Sibyl as I spoke. 
"Have you many recollections of the place?" 

"Indeed, indeed I have!" she answered with a touch of 
something like passion vibrating in her accents. "There is 
no corner of the world I love so well ! I used to play on the 
lawns under the old oak-trees, and I always gathered the 
first violets and primroses that came out on the banks of the 
Avon. And when the hawthorn was in full flower I used to 
make believe that the park was fairyland and I the fairy 
queen " 

' ' As you were and are ! ' ' interposed Lucio suddenly. 

She smiled and her eyes flashed, — then she went on more 
quietly — 

" It was all very foolish, but I loved Willowsmere, and love 
it still. And I often saw in the fields on the other side of 
the river, which did not belong to the estate, a little girl 
about my own age, playing all by herself and making long 
daisy-chains and buttercup balls, — a little girl with long fair 
curls and a sweet baby face. I wanted to know her and speak 
to her, but my nurse would never let me because she was 
supposed to be 'beneath' me." Lady Sibyl's lip curled 
scornfully at this recollection. " Yet she was well-born ; she 
was the orphan child of a very distinguished scholar and 
gentleman, and had been adopted by the physician who 



attended her mother's deathbed, she having no living rela- 
tives left to take care of her. And she — that little fair-haired 
girl — was Mavis Clare." 

As this name was uttered, a sort of hush fell on our party 
as though an 'Angelus' had rung, — and Lucio, looking across 
at me with peculiar intentness, asked — 

'' Have you never heard of Mavis Clare, Tempest?" 

I thought a moment before replying. Yes, I had heard 
the name, — connected with literature in some dim and dis- 
tant way, but I could not remember when or how. For I 
never paid any attention to the names of women who chose 
to associate themselves with the Arts, as I had the usual mas- 
culine notion that all they did, whether in painting, music or 
writing, must of necessity be trash, and unworthy of com- 
ment. Women, I loftily considered, were created to amuse 
men, — not to instruct them. 

"Mavis Clare is a marvellous genius," Lady Sibyl said 
presently. '' If Mr Tempest has not heard of her, there is no 
doubt he luill hear. I often regret that I never made her 
acquaintance in those old days at Willowsmere, — the stupidity 
of my nurse often rankles in my mind. * Beneath me' — 
indeed ! — and how very much she is above me now ! She 
still lives down there, — her adopted parents are dead, and 
she rents the lovely little house they inhabited. She has 
bought some extra land about it and improved the place won- 
derfully. Indeed I have never seen a more ideal poet's corner 
than Lily Cottage." 

I was silent, feeling somewhat in the background on ac- 
count of my ignorance as to the gifts and the position of the 
individual they all seemed to recognise as a celebrity of 

''Rather an odd name, Mavis, isn't it?" I at last ventured 
to observe. 

"Yes, — but it suits her wonderfully. She sings quite as 
sweetly as any thrush, so she merits her designation." 

"What has she done in literature?" I continued. 



"■ Oh, — only a novel !" replied Liicio with a smile. *' But 
it has a quality unusual to novels ; it lives. I hope, Tempest, 
that your forthcoming work will enjoy the same vitality." 

Here Lord Elton, who had been more or less brooding darkly 
over his glass of wine ever since I had mentioned my purchase 
of Willowsmere, roused himself from his reverie. 

''Why, God bless my soul !" he exclaimed. ''You don't 
mean to tell me you have written a novel, Mr Tempest ?" 
(Was it possible he had never noticed all the prominent adver- 
tisements of my book in every paper, I thought indignantly !) 
"What do you want to do that for, with your immense 
position ?' ' 

"He hankers after fame!" said Lucio half kindly, half 

"But you've got fame!" declared the Earl, emphatically. 
" Everybody knows who you are by this time." 

"Ah, my dear lord, that is not enough for the aspirations 
of my gifted friend," responded Lucio, speaking for me, his 
eyes darkening with that mystic shadow of mingled sorrow 
and scorn which so frequently clouded their lustrous brilliancy. 
"He does not particularly care for the 'immense position' 
that is due to wealth alone, because that does not lift him a 
jot higher than Maple of Tottenham Court Eoad. He seeks 
to soar beyond the furniture man, — and who shall blame him? 
He would be known for that indescribable quality called 
Genius,— for high thoughts, poetry, divine instincts, and pro- 
phetic probings into the heart of humanity, — in short, for the 
power of the Pen which topples down great kingdoms like 
card-houses and sticks foolscaps on the heads of kings. Gen- 
erally it is the moneyless man or woman who is endowed with 
this unpurchasable power, — this independence of action and 
indifference to opinion, — the wealthy seldom do anything 
but spend or hoard. But Tempest means to unite for once 
in his own person the two most strenuously opposed forces 
in nature, — genius and cash, — or, in other words, God and 


Lady Sibyl turned her head towards me ; — there was a look 
of doubt and wonder on her beautiful face. 

" I am afraid," she said half smiling, '' that the claims of 
society will take up too much of your time, Mr Tempest, to 
allow you to continue the writing of books. I remember you 
told me the other evening that you were about to publish a 
novel. I suppose you were — originally I mean — an author by 

A curious sense of anger burned dully within me. ' Origi- 
nally' an author ? Was I not one still ? Was I to be given 
credit for nothing but my banking-book ? ' Originally' ? 
Why, I had never been an actual ' author' till now, — I had 
simply been a wandering literary hack, — a stray * super' of 
Grub Street, occasionally engaged to write articles * to order' 
on any subject that came uppermost, at a starvation rate of 
pay, without any visible prospect of rising from that lowest 
and dirtiest rung of the literary ladder. I felt myself growing 
red, then pale, — and I saw that Lucio was looking at me 

** I am an author, Lady Sibyl," I said at last ; '' and I hope 
I may soon prove my right to be acknowledged as one. 
* Author' is, in my opinion, a prouder title than king, and I 
do not think any social claims will deter me from following 
the profession of literature, which I look upon as the highest 
in the world." 

Lord Elton fidgeted uneasily in his chair. 

"But your people," he said, — **your family— are they 
literary ?' ' 

"No members of my family are now living," I answered 
somewhat stiffly. "My father was John Tempest of Rex- 

"Indeed!" and the Earl's face brightened considerably. 
" Dear me, dear me ! I used to meet him often in the hunt- 
ing field years ago. You come of a fine old stock, sir ! — the 
Tempests of Rexmoor are well and honourably known in county 


I said nothing, feeling a trifle heated in temper, though I 
could not have quite explained why. 

"One begins to wonder," said Lucio then, in his soft 
smooth accents, '* when one is the descendant of a good 
English county family, — a distinct cause for pride ! — and 
moreover has the still more substantial fact of a large fortune 
to support that high lineage, why one should trouble to fight 
for merely literary honours ! You are far too modest in your 
ambitions. Tempest ! — high-seated as you are upon bank-notes 
and bullion, with all the glory of effulgent county chronicles 
behind you, you still stoop to clutch the laurel ! Fie, my 
dear fellow ! You degrade yourself by this desire to join the 
company of the immortals !" 

His satirical tone was not lost upon the company ; and I, 
who saw that in his own special way he was defending the 
claims of literature against those of mere place and money, 
felt soothed and grateful. The Earl looked a trifle annoyed. 

"That's all very fine," he said. "But you see it isn't as 
if Mr Tempest were driven by necessity to write for his 
living — " 

" One may love work for the work's sake without any actual 
necessity for doing it," I interposed. "For example, — this 
Mavis Clare you speak of, — is she — a woman — driven by 

" Mavis Clare hasn't a penny in the world that she does not 
earn," said Lord Elton gruffly. "I suppose that if she did 
not write she would starve." 

Diana Chesney laughed. 

"I guess she's a long way off starvation just now," she 
remarked, her brown eyes twinkling. " Why, she's as proud 
as the proudest, — drives in the Park in her victoria and pair 
with the best in the land, and knows all the ' swagger' people. 
She's nowhere near Grub Street, / should say. I hear she's a 
splendid business woman and more than a match for the pub- 
lishers all round." 

"Well I should rather doubt that," said the Earl with a 


chuckle. ''It needs the devil himself to match the pub- 

''You are right," said Lucio. "In fact, I daresay that in 
the various ' phases' or transmigrations of the spirit into differ- 
ing forms of earthy matter, the devil (should he exist at all) 
has frequently become a publisher, — and a particularly benev- 
olent publisher too ! — by way of diversion." 

We all smiled. 

" Well, I should imagine Mavis Clare to be a match for 
anybody or anything," said Lady Sibyl. "Of course she is 
not rich, — but she spends her money wisely and to effective 
advantage. I do not know her personally, — I wish I did ; 
but I have read her books, which are quite out of the common. 
She is a most independent creature too ; quite indifferent to 

' ' I suppose she must be extremely plain then, ' ' I observed. 
" Plain women always try to do something more or less 
startling in order to attract the attention denied to their 
personality. ' ' 

" True, — but that would not apply to Miss Clare. She is 
quite lovely, and knows how to dress besides." 

^^ Such a virtue in literary women !" exclaimed Diana Ches- 
ney. " Some of them are such dowdies !" 

"Most people of culture," went on Lady Sibyl — "in our 
set at any rate — are accustomed to look upon Miss Clare as 
quite an exception to the usual run of authors. She is charm- 
ing in herself as well as in her books, and she goes every- 
where. She writes with inspiration, — and always has some- 
thing so new to say — " 

" That of course all the critics are down upon her ?' ' queried 

" Oh, naturally ! But we never read reviews." 

" Nor anyone else I should hope," said Lord Elton with a 
laugh — " except the fellows who write them, ha — ha — ha ! I 
call it damned impertinence — excuse the word— on the part 
of a newspaper hack to presume to teach me what I ought to 


read, or what I ought to appreciate. I'm quite capable of 
forming my own judgment on any book that ever was written. 
But I avoid all the confounded ' new' poets, — avoid 'em like 
poison, sir — ha — ha ! Anything but a ' new' poet ; the old 
ones are good enough for me. Why, sir, these reviewers who 
give themselves such airs with a pennorth of ink and a pen, 
are mostly half-grown, half-educated boys who for a couple of 
guineas a week undertake to tell the public what they think of 
such and such a book, as if anyone cared a jot about their 
green opinions ! Ridiculous — quite ridiculous ! — what do 
they take the public for, I wonder ! Editors of responsible 
journals ought to know better than to employ such young 
coxcombs just because they can get them cheap " 

At this juncture the butler came up behind his master's 
chair and whispered a few words. The Earl's brow clouded, 
— then he addressed his sister-in-law, — 

" Charlotte, Lady Elton sends word that she will come into 
the drawing-room to-night. Perhaps you had better go and 
see that she is made comfortable." And, as Miss Charlotte 
rose, he turned to us saying, '' My wife is seldom well enough 
to see visitors, but this evening she feels inclined for a little 
change and distraction from the monotony of her sick-room. 
It will be very kind of you two gentlemen 'to entertain her, — 
she cannot speak much, but her hearing and sight are excel- 
lent, and she takes great interest in all that is going on. Dear, 
dear me !" and he heaved a short troubled sigh — '' She used 
to be one of the brightest of women !" 

*'The sweet Countess!" murmured Miss Chesney with 
patronizing tenderness. '' She is quite lovely still !" 

Lady Sibyl glanced at her with a sudden haughty frown 
which showed me plainly what a rebellious temper the young 
beauty held in control ; and I fell straightway more in love — 
according to my idea of love — than ever. I confess I like a 
woman to have a certain amount of temper. I cannot endure 
your preternaturally amiable female, who can find nothing in 
all the length or breadth of the globe to move her to any other 


expression than a fatuous smile. I love to see the danger-flash 
in bright eyes, the delicate quiver of pride in the lines of a 
lovely mouth, and the warm flush of indignation on fair cheeks. 
It all suggests spirit, and untamed will ; and rouses in a man 
the love of mastery that is born in his nature, urging him to 
conquer and subdue that which seems unconquerable. And 
all the desire of such conquest was strong within me, when at 
the close of dinner I rose and held the door open for the ladies 
to pass out of the room. As the fair Sibyl went, the violets 
she wore at her bosom dropped. I picked them up and made 
my first move. 

'' May I keep these?" I said in a low tone. 

Her breath came and went quickly, — but she looked straight 
in my eyes with a smile that perfectly comprehended my hidden 

" You may !" she answered. 

I bowed, closed the door behind her, and, secreting the 
flowers, returned, well-satisfied, to my place at table. 


Left with myself and Lucio, Lord Elton threw off all re- 
serve, and became not only familiar, but fawning in his adula- 
tion of us both. An abject and pitiable desire to please and 
propitiate us expressed itself in his every look and word ; and 
I firmly believe that if I had coolly and brutally offered to buy 
his fair daughter by private treaty for a hundred thousand 
pounds, that sum to be paid down to him on the day of mar- 
riage, he would have gladly agreed to sell. Apart, however, 
from his personal covetousness, I felt and knew that my pro- 
jected courtship of Lady Sibyl would of necessity resolve 
itself into something more or less of a market bargain, unless 
indeed I could win the girl's love. I meant to try and do this, 
but I fully realized how difficult, nay, almost impossible it 


would be for her to forget the fact of my unhampered and vast 
fortune, and consider me for myself alone. Herein is one of 
the blessings of poverty which the poor are frequently too ajjt 
to forget. A moneyless man if he wins a woman's love, 
knows that such love is genuine and untainted by self-interest ^ 
but a rich man can never be truly certain of love at all. The 
advantages of a wealthy match are constantly urged upon all 
marriageable girls by both their parents and friends, — and it 
would have to be a very unsophisticated feminine nature indeed 
that could contemplate a husband possessing five millions of 
money, without a touch of purely interested satisfaction. A 
very wealthy man can never be sure even of friendship, — while 
the highest, strongest and noblest kind of love is nearly always 
denied to him, in this way carrying out the fulfilment of those 
strange but true words, — " How hardly shall he that is a rich 
man enter the Kingdom of Heaven!" The heaven of a 
woman's love, tried and proved true through disaster and dif- 
ficulty, — of her unflinching faithfulness and devotion in days 
of toil and bitter anguish, — of her heroic self-abnegation, 
sweetness and courage through the darkest hours of doubt 
and disappointment ; — this bright and splendid side of 
woman's character is reserved by Divine ordinance for the 
poor man. The millionaire can indeed wed whomsoever he 
pleases among all the beauties of the world, — he can deck his 
wife in gorgeous apparel, load her with jewels and look upon 
her in all the radiance of her richly-adorned loveliness as one 
may look upon a perfect statue or matchless picture, — but he 
can never reach the deeper secrets of her soul or probe the 
well-springs of her finer nature. I thought this even thus early 
in the beginning of my admiration for Lady Sibyl Elton, 
though I did not then dwell upon it as I have often done since. 
I was too elated with the pride of wealth to count the possi- 
bilities of subtle losses amid so many solid gains; and I en- 
joyed to the full and with a somewhat contemptuous malice 
the humble prostration of a ' belted Earl' before the dazzling 
mine of practically unlimited cash as represented to him in 


the persons of my brilliant comrade and myself. I took a 
curious sort of pleasure in patronizing him, and addressed him 
with a protecting air of indulgent kindness, whereat he seemed 
gratified. Inwardly I laughed, as I thought how differently 
matters would have stood supposing I had been indeed no 
more than ' author' ! I might have proved to be one of the 
greatest writers of the age, but if, with that, I had been poor 
or only moderately well off, this same half bankrupt Earl, who 
privately boarded an American heiress for two thousand guineas 
a year, would have deemed it a ' condescension' to so much as 
invite me to his house, — would have looked down upon me 
from his titled nothingness and perhaps carelessly alluded to 
me as ' a man who writes — er — yes — er — rather clever I be- 
lieve !' and then would have thought no more about me. For 
this very cause as ' author' still, though millionaire, I took a 
fantastic pleasure in humiliating his lordship as much as possi- 
ble, and I found the best w^ay to do this was to talk about 
Willowsmere. I saw that he winced at the very name of his 
lost estate, and that notwithstanding this, he could not avoid 
showing his anxiety as to my intentions with regard to its oc- 
cupation. Lucio, whose wisdom and foresight had suggested 
my becoming the purchaser of the place, assisted me in the 
moist adroit fashion to draw him out, and to make his charac- 
ter manifest, and by the time we had finished our cigars and 
coffee, I knew that the * proud' Earl of Elton, who could trace 
his lineage to the earliest days of the Crusaders, was as ready 
to bend his back and crawl in the dust for money as the veriest 
hotel porter expectant of a sovereign ' tip.' I had never en- 
tertained a high opinion of the aristocracy, and on this occa- 
sion it was certainly not improved, but remembering that the 
spendthrift nobleman beside me was the father of Lady Sibyl, 
I treated him on the whole with more respect than his mean 
and grasping nature deserved. 

On returning to the drawing-room after dinner I was struck 
by the chill weirdness that seemed to be imparted to it by the 
addition of Lady Elton's couch, which, placed near the fire, 
G k 13 


suggested a black sarcophagus in bulk and outline. It was 
practically a narrow bed on wheels, though partially disguised 
by a silk coverlet draped skilfully so as to somewhat hide its 
coffin-like shape. The extended figure of the paralyzed 
Countess herself presented a death-like rigidity ; but her face, 
as she turned it towards us on our entrance, was undisfigured 
as yet, and distinctly handsome, her eyes especially being 
large, clear and almost brilliant. Her daughter introduced us 
both in a low tone, and she moved her head slightly by way 
of acknowledgment, studying us curiously the while. 

''Well, my dear," said Lord Elton briskly, "this is an 
unexpected pleasure ! it is nearly three months since you 
honoured us with your company. How do you feel?" 

''Better," she replied slowly, yet distinctly, her gaze now 
fixed with wondering intentness on Prince Rimanez. 

"Mother found the room rather cold," explained Lady 
Sibyl ; "so we brought her as near to the fire as possible. It 
z> cold," — and she shivered; — "I fancy it must be freezing 

" Where is Diana?" asked the Earl, looking about in search 
of that lively young lady. 

"Miss Chesney has gone to her own room to write a letter," 
replied his daughter somewhat frigidly. " She will be back 

At this moment Lady Elton feebly raised her hand, and 
pointed to Lucio, who had moved aside to answer some ques- 
tion asked of him by Miss Charlotte. 

"Who is that?" she murmured. 

"Why, mother dear, I told you," said Lady Sibyl gently. 
"That is Prince Lucio Rimanez, Papa's great friend." 

The Countess's pallid hand still remained lifted, as though 
it were frozen in air. 

'•^WJiat is he?" the slow voice again inquired, — and then 
the hand dropped suddenly like a dead thing. 

"Now, Helena, you must not excite yourself," said her 
husband, bending over her couch with real or assumed 


anxiety. *' Surely you remember all I have told you about 
the prince? And also about this gentleman, Mr Geoffrey 

She nodded, and her eyes, turning reluctantly away from 
Rimamez, regarded me fixedly. 

**You are a very young man to be a millionaire," were 
her next words, uttered with evident difficulty. ''Are you 
married ?' ' 

I smiled, and answered in the negative. Her looks wan- 
dered from me to her daughter's face, — then back to me again 
with a singularly intent expression. Finally, the potent mag- 
netism of Lucio's presence again attracted her, and she 
indicated him by a gesture. 

"Ask your friend ... to come here . . . and speak to 

Rimanez turned instinctively at her request, and with his 
own peculiar charm and gallant grace of bearing, came to the 
side of the paralyzed lady, and taking her hand, kissed it. 

"Your face seems familiar to me," she said, speaking 
now, as it seemed, with greater ease. " Have I ever met you 
before ?' ' 

" Dear lady, you may have done so," he replied in dulcet 
tones and with a most captivating gentleness of manner. " It 
occurs to me, now I think of it, that years ago I saw once, as 
a passing vision of loveliness, in the hey-day of youth and hap- 
piness, Helena Fitzroy, before she was Countess of Elton." 

" You must have been a mere boy — a child — at that time !" 
she murmured, faintly smiling. 

" Not so ! — for you are still young, Madame, and I am old. 
You look incredulous ? Alas, why is it, I wonder, I may not 
look the age I am ! Most of my acquaintances spend a great 
part of their lives in trying to look the age they are not ; and 
I never came across a man of fifty who was not proud to be 
considered thirty-nine. My desires are more laudable, — yet 
honourable eld refuses to impress itself upon my features. It 
is quite a sore point with me I assure you." 


" Well, how old are you really?" asked Lady Sibyl, smiling 
at him. 

'*Ah, I dare not tell you!" he answered, returning the 
smile. '' But I ought to explain that in my countings I judge 
age by the workings of thought and feeling, more than by the 
passing of years. Thus it should not surprise you to hear that 
I feel myself old, — old as the world !" 

" But there are scientists who say that the world is young," 
I observed, ''and that it is only now beginning to feel its 
forces and put forth its vigour." 

"Such optimistic wiseacres are wrong," he answered. 
" The world is a veritable husk of a planet ; humanity has 
nearly completed all its allotted phases, and the end is 
near. ' ' 

"The end?" echoed Lady Sibyl. " Do you believe the 
world will ever come to an end ?" 

" I do, most certainly. Or, to be more correct, it will not 
actually perish, but will simply change. And the change will 
not agree with the constitution of its present inhabitants. 
They will call the transformation the Day of Judgment. I 
should imagine it would be a fine sight," 

The Countess gazed at him wonderingly, — Lady Sibyl 
seemed amused. 

"I would rather not witness it," said Lord Elton gruffly. 

"Oh, why?" and Rimanez looked about with quite a 
cheerful air. " A final glimpse of the planet ere we ascend or 
^<:'scend to our future homes elsewhere, would be something to 
remember! Madame," — here he addressed Lady Elton, — 
"are you fond of music?" 

The invalid smiled gratefully, and bent her head in acqui- 
escence. Miss Chesney had just entered the room and heard 
the question. 

" Do you play?" she exclaimed vivaciously, touching him 
on the arm with her fan. 

He bowed. " I do, — in an erratic sort of fashion. I also 
sing. Music has always been one of my passions. When I 


was very young, — ages ago, — I used to imagine I could hear 
the angel Israfel chanting his strophes amid the golden glow 
of heavenly glory, — himself white-winged and wonderful, 
with a voice out-ringing beyond the verge of paradise." 

As he spoke, a sudden silence fell upon us all. Something 
in his accent touched my heart to a strange sense of sorrow 
and yearning, and the Countess of Elton's dark eyes, lan- 
guid with long suffering, grew soft as though with repressed 

"Sometimes," he continued more lightly — ''just at odd 
moments — I like to believe in Paradise. It is a relief, even 
to a hardened sinner like myself, to fancy that there may exist 
something in the way of a world better than this one." 

''Surely sir," said Miss Charlotte Fitzroy severely, "you 
believe in Heaven?" 

He looked at her, and smiled slightly. 

" Madame, forgive me ! I do not believe in the clerical 
heaven. I know you will be angry with me for this frank 
confession ! But I cannot picture the angels in white smocks 
with goose wings, or the Deity as a somewhat excitable per- 
sonage with a beard. Personally I should decline to go to 
any heaven which was only a city with golden streets ; and I 
should object to a sea of glass, resenting it as a want of in- 
vention on the part of the creative Intelligence. But — do 
not frown, dear Miss Fitzroy ! — I do believe in Heaven all the 
same, — a different kind of heaven, — I often see it in my 
dreams ! ' ' 

He paused, and again we were all silent, gazing at him. 
Lady Sibyl's eyes, indeed, rested upon him with such ab- 
sorbed interest, that I became somewhat irritated, and was 
glad when, turning towards the Countess once more, he said 
quietly — 

" Shall I give you some music now, Madame?" 

She murmured assent, and followed him with a vaguely 
uneasy glance as he crossed over to the grand piano and sat 
down. I had never heard him either play or sing; in fact, 



so far as his accomplishments went I knew nothing of him as 
yet, except that he was a perfect master of the art of horse- 
manship. With the first few bars he struck I half started from 
my chair in amazement ; — could a mere pianoforte produce 
such sounds? — or was there some witchery hidden in the 
commonplace instrument, unguessed by any other performer ? 
I stared around me, bewildered, — I saw Miss Charlotte drop 
her knitting abstractedly, — Diana Chesney, lying lazily back 
in one corner of the sofa, half closed her eyelids in dreamy 
ecstasy, — Lord Elton stood near the fire resting one arm on 
the mantelpiece, and shading his fuzzy brows with his hand, — 
and Lady Sibyl sat beside her mother, her lovely face pale 
with emotion, while on the worn features of the invalided lady 
there was an expression of mingled pain and pleasure difficult 
to describe. The music swelled into ])assionate cadence, — 
melodies crossed and re -crossed each other like rays of light 
glittering among green leaves, — voices of birds and streams 
and tossing waterfalls chimed in with songs of love and play- 
ful merriment ; — anon came wilder strains of grief and angry 
clamour ; cries of despair were heard echoing through the 
thunderous noise of some relentless storm, — farewells ever- 
lastingly shrieked amid sobs of reluctant shuddering agony ; — 
and then, as I listened, before my eyes a black mist gathered 
slowly, and I thought I saw great rocks bursting asunder into 
flame, and drifting islands in a sea of fire, — faces, wonderful, 
hideous, beautiful, peered at me out of darkness denser than 
night, and in the midst of this there came a tune, complete in 
sweetness and suggestion, — a piercing sword-like tune that 
plunged into my very heart and rankled there; — my breath 
failed me, — my senses swam, — I felt that I must move, speak, 
cry out, and implore that this music, this horribly insidious 
music should cease ere I swooned with the voluptuous poison 
of it, — when, with a full chord of splendid harmony that rolled 
out upon the air like a breaking wave, the intoxicating sounds 
ebbed away into silence. No one spoke, — our hearts were 
yet beating too wildly with the pulsations roused by that 



wondrous lyric storm. Diana Chesney was the first to break 
the spell. 

''Well, that beats everything I've ever heard!" she mur- 
mured tremulously. 

I could say nothing, — I was too occupied with my own 
thoughts. Something in the music had instilled itself into 
my blood, or so I fancied, and the clinging subtle sweetness 
of it, moved me to strange emotions that were neither wise 
nor worthy of a man. I looked at Lady Sibyl ; she was very 
pale, — her eyes were cast down and her hands were trembling. 
On a sudden impulse I rose, and went to Rimanez, where he 
still sat at the piano, his hands dumbly wandering over the 

*'You are a great master," I said, — ''a wonderful per- 
former ! But do you know what your music suggests?" 

He met my fixed gaze, shrugged his shoulders, and shook 
his head. 

''Crime!" I whispered. "You have roused in me evil 
thoughts of which I am ashamed. I did not think that was 
possible to so divine an Art. ' ' 

He smiled, and his eyes glittered with the steely brightness 
of stars on a wintry night. 

"Art takes its colours from the mind, my dear friend," 
he said. " If you discover evil suggestions in my music, the 
evil, I fear, must be in your own nature." 

"Or in yours !" I said quickly. 

" Or in mine," he agreed coldly. "I have often told you 
I am no saint." 

I stood hesitatingly, looking at him. For one moment his 
great personal beauty appeared hateful to me, though I knew 
not why. Then the feeling of distrust and repulsion slowly 
passed, leaving me humiliated and abashed, 

"Pardon me, Lucio !" I murmured regretfully, — "I spoke 
in haste ; but truly your music almost put me in a state of 
frenzy. I never heard anything in the least like it " 

"Nor I," said Lady Sibyl, who just then moved towards 



the piano. "It was marvellous! Do you know it quite 
frightened me?" 

'' I am sorry !" he answered, with a penitent air. " I know 
I am quite a failure as a pianist. I am not sufficiently ' re- 
strained,' as the press men would say." 

*' A failure? Good God!" exclaimed Lord Elton at this 
juncture. "Why, if you played like that in public, you'd 
drive everyone frantic !" 

"With alarm?" queried Lucio, laughing, "or with dis- 

"Nonsense! you know what I mean very well. I have 
always had a contempt for the piano as an instrument, but 
by Jove ! I never heard such music as yours even in a full 
orchestra. It is extraordinary ! — it is positively magnificent ! 
Where in the world did you study ?' ' 

"In Nature's conservatoire," replied Rimanez lazily. 
"My first 'maestro' was an amiable nightingale. He, 
singing on a branch of fir when the moon was full, 
explained with liquid-noted patience, how to construct 
and produce a pure roulade, cadenza and trill, — and 
when I had learned thus far, he showed me all the most 
elaborate methods of applying rhythmic tune to the upward 
and downward rush of the wind, thus supplying me with 
perfect counterpoint. > Chords I learned from old Neptune, 
who was good enough to toss a few of his largest billows to 
the shore for my special benefit. He nearly deafened me 
with his instructions, being somewhat excitable and loud- 
voiced, — but on finding me an apt pupil, he drew back his 
waves to himself with so much delicacy among the pebbles 
and sand, that at once I mastered the secret of playing 
ai'peggi. Once too I had a finishing lesson from a Dream, 
— a mystic thing with wild hair and wings ; it sang one word 
in my ears, and the word was unpronounceable in mortal 
speech, — but after many efforts I discovered it lurking in the 
scale of sound. The best part of it all was that my instructors 
asked no fees." 


"I think you are a poet as well as a musician," said 
Lady Sibyl. 

*' A poet ! Spare me !— my dear young lady, why are you 
so cruel as to load me with so vile an imputation ! Better be 
a murderer than a poet, — one is treated with much more 
respect and courteous consideration, — by the press at any 
rate. The murderer's breakfast-menu will be given due 
place in many of the most estimable journals, but the 
poet's lack of both breakfast and dinner will be deemed his 
fitting reward. Call me a live-stock producer, a horse- 
breeder, a timber-merchant, — anything but a poet ! Why 
even Tennyson became an amateur milkman to somewhat con- 
ceal and excuse the shame and degradation of writing verse ! ' ' 

We all laughed. 

" Well, you must admit," said Lord Elton, " that we've had 
rather too much of poets lately. It's no wonder we're sick 
of them, and that poetry has fallen into disrepute. Poets 
are such a quarrelsome lot ton — effeminate, puling, unmanly 
humbugs ! ' ' 

''You are speaking of the newly 'discovered' ones of 
course," said Lucio. "Yes, they are a weedy collection. I 
have sometimes thought that out of pure philanthropy I 
would start a bon-bon manufactory, and employ them to 
write mottoes for the crackers. It would keep them out of 
mischief and provide them with a little pocket-money, for as 
matters stand they do not make a farthing by their books. 
But I do not call them ' poets' at all, — they are mere 
rhymers. One or two real poets do exist, but, like the 
prophets of Scripture, they are not 'in society,' nor can they 
get their logs rolled by any of their contemporaries. They 
are not favourites with any " set' ; that is why I am afraid my 
dear friend Tempest will never be accepted as the genius he 
is ; society will be too fond of him to let him go down into 
dust and ashes to gather the laurel." 

"It is not necessary to go down into dust and ashes for 
that," I said. 


"I assure you it is!" he answered gaily, — '^positively 
imperative. The laurel flourishes best so, — it will not grow 
in a hot-house." 

At that moment Diana Chesney approached. 

"Lady Elton would like to hear you sing, prince," she 
said, ''Will you give us that pleasure? Do! Something 
quite simple, you know, — it will set our nerves straight after 
your terribly beautiful music ! You'd hardly believe it per- 
haps, but I really feel quite unstrung ! ' ' 

He folded his hands with a droll air of penitence. 

" Forgive me !" he said. "I'm always, as the church service 
says, doing those things I ought not to do." 

Miss Chesney laughed, a trifle nervously. 

" Oh, I forgive you !" she replied — " on condition that you 

" I obey !" and with that he turned again to the piano and, 
playing a strange wild minor accompaniment, sang the fol- 
lowing stanzas : 

Sleep, my Beloved, sleep! 

Be patient ! — we shall keep 

Our secret closely hid 

Beneath the coffin-lid, — 
There is no other place in earth or air 
For such a love as ours, or such despair! 
And neither hell nor heaven shall care to win 
Our loathed souls, rejoicing in their sin! 

Sleep ! — for my hand is sure, — 

The cold steel bright and pure 

Strikes through thy heart and mine, 

Shedding our blood like wine ; — 
Sin's sweetness is too sweet, and if the shame 
Of love must be our curse, we hurl the blame 
Back on the gods who gave us love with breath, 
And tortured us from passion into death ! 

This extraordinary song, sung in the most glorious of 
baritones, full and rich, and vibrating with power and sweet- 
ness, had a visibly thrilling effect upon us all. Again we were 


struck dumb with surprise and something like fear, — and again 
Diana Chesney broke the silence. 

" You call that simple !" she said, half petulantly. 

*' Quite so. Love and Death are the simplest things in the 
world," replied Lucio. "The ballad is a mere trifle, — it is 
entitled 'The Last Love-Song,' and is supposed to be the 
utterance of a lover about to kill his mistress and himself. 
Such events happen every day, — you know that by the news- 
papers, — they are perfectly common-place " 

He was interrupted by a sharp clear voice ringing impera- 
tively across the room — 

'' Where did you learn that song?" 


It was the paralyzed Countess who spoke. She had man- 
aged to partly raise herself on her couch, and her face ex- 
pressed positive terror. Her husband hurried to her side, — 
and, with a curiously cynical smile on his lips, Rimanez rose 
from the piano. Miss Charlotte, who had sat rigidly upright 
and silent for some time, hastened to attend upon her sister, 
but Lady Elton was singularly excited, and appeared to have 
gained a sudden access of unnatural vigour. 

" Go away, — I'm not ill," she said impatiently. *' I feel 
better, — much better than I have done for months. The 
music does me good." And addressing her husband, she 
added, "Ask your friend to come and sit here by me, — I 
want to talk to him. He has a magnificent voice, — and — 
I know that song he sang, — I remember reading it — in a 
manuscript album — long ago. I want to know where he 
found it." 

Rimanez here advanced with his gentle tread and courteous 
bearing, and Lord Elton gave him a chair beside the invalid. 

"You are working miracles on my wife," he said. "I 
have not seen her so animated for years." 


And leaving the two to talk, he crossed over to where Lady 
Sibyl, myself, and Miss Chesney, were all seated in a group, 
chatting more or less unrestrainedly. 

" I have just been expressing the hope that you and your 
daughter will pay me a visit at Willowsmere, Lord Elton," I 

His brows contracted a little, but he forced a smile. *' We 
shall be delighted," he mumbled. ''When do you take 
possession ?' ' 

"As soon as it is at all feasible," I replied. " I shall wait 
in town till the next Levee is over, as both my friend and 
myself have arranged to be presented." 

**0h — ah — yes! — er — yes! That is always advisable. 
And it's not half such a troublesome business as a Drawing- 
room is for the ladies. It's soon over, — and low bodices are 
not de rigeiir — ha — ha — ha? Who is your presenter?" 

I named a distinguished personage, closely connected with 
the Court, and the Earl nodded. 

"A very good man, — you could not have a better," he 
said complacently. '' And this book of yours, — when does it 
come out ?' ' 

"Next week." 

"We must get it, — we must certainly get it," said Lord 
Elton, assuming interest. — " Sybil, you must put it down on 
your library list." 

She assented, though, as I thought a trifle indifferently. 

" On the contrary you must allow me to present it to you," 
I said. " It will be a pleasure to me which I hope you will 
not deny." 

" You are very kind," she answered, lifting her beautiful 
eyes to mine as she spoke; "but the librarian at Mudie's is 
sure to send it — he knows I read everything. Though I con- 
fess I never buy any books except those by Mavis Clare." 

Again that woman's name 1 I felt annoyed, but took care 
not to show my annoyance. 

" I shall be jealous of Mavis Clare," I said playfully. 


*' Most men are !" she replied quietly. 

''You are indeed an enthusiastic partisan of hers !" I ex- 
claimed, somewhat surprised. 

''Yes, I suppose I am. I like to see any member of my 
sex distinguish herself as nobly as she does. I have no genius 
of my own, and that is one of the reasons why I honour it so 
much in other women." 

I was about to make some suitable compliment by way of 
response to this remark, when we were all violently startled 
from our seats by a most horrible cry, — a gasping scream, such 
as might be wrung from some tortured animal. Aghast at 
the sound we stood for a moment inert, staring at Rimanez, 
who came quickly towards us with an air of grave con- 

'*I am afraid," he said softly, " that the Countess is not so 
well, — perhaps you had better go to her — " 

Another shriek interrupted his words, and, transfixed with 
horror, we saw Lady Elton struggling in the throes of some 
sudden and terrific convulsion, her hands beating the air as if 
she were fighting w^ith an unseen enemy. In one second her 
face underwent such hideous contortions as robbed it of all 
human semblance, and between the agonized pantings of her 
difficult breath, her half-choked voice could be heard uttering 
wdld cries — 

" Mercy !— mercy !— oh God !— God ! Tell Sibyl !— pray 
— pray to God, — pray " 

And with that she fell heavily back, speechless and uncon- 

All was instant confusion. Lady Sibyl rushed to her 
mother's side, with Miss Charlotte, — Diana Chesney hung 
back trembling and afraid, — Lord Elton sprang to the bell 
and rang it furiously. 

"Fetch the doctor!" he cried to the startled servant. 
"Lady Elton has had another shock ! She must be taken to 
her room at once." 

" Can I be of any service?" I inquired, with a side glance 



at Rimanez, who stood gravely apart, a statuesquely composed 
figure of silence. 

" No, no, — thanks all the same !" and the Earl pressed my 
hand gratefully. " She should not have come downstairs, — it 
has been too exciting for her. Sibyl, don't look at her, my 
dear — it will only unnerve you. — Miss Chesney, pray go to 
your room, — Charlotte can do all that is possible " 

As he spoke, two of the men-servants came in to carry the 
insensible Countess upstairs, — and as they slowly bore her 
on her coffin-like couch past me, one of them drew the cover- 
let across her face to conceal it. But not so quickly that I 
could not see the awful change impressed upon it, — the in- 
delible horror that was stamped on the drawn features, — 
horror such as surely never was seen except in a painter's idea 
of some lost soul in torment. The eyes were rolled up and 
fixed in their sockets like balls of glass, and in them also was 
frozen the same frenzied desperate look of fear. It was a 
dreadful face ! — so dreadful in its ghastly immovableness, that 
I was all at once reminded of my hideous vision of the pre- 
vious night, and the pallid countenances of the three phantoms 
that had scared me in my sleep. Lady Elton's looks now 
resembled theirs ! Sickened and appalled, I averted my eyes, 
and was glad to see Rimanez taking farewell of his host, the 
while he expressed his regret and sympathy wdth him in his 
domestic affliction. I myself, approaching Lady Sibyl, 
pressed her cold and trembling hand in mine, and respect- 
fully kissed it. 

''I am deeply sorry!" I murmured. "1 wish I could do 
anything to console you. ' ' 

She looked at me with dry calm eyes. 

" Thank you. But the doctors have always said that my 
mother would have another shock depriving her of speech. 
It is very sad ; she will probably live for some years like that." 

I again expressed my sympathy. 

''May I come and inquire about you all to-morrow?" I 



*'It will be very kind of you," she answered quietly. 

" Shall I see you if I come?" I said in a lower tone. 

*'If you wish it, — certainly !" 

Our eyes met ; and I knew by instinct that she read my 
thoughts. I pressed her hand again, and was not repulsed ; 
then bowing profoundly, I left her to make my adieux to 
Lord Elton and Miss Chesney, who seemed terribly upset 
and frightened. Miss Charlotte Fitzroy had left the room in 
attendance on her sister, and she did not return to bid us 
good-night. Rimanez lingered a moment behind me to say 
another word or two to the Earl, and when he joined me in 
the hall and threw on his opera-coat, he was smiling to him- 
self somewhat singularly. 

''An unpleasant end for Helena, Countess of Elton," he 
said, when we were in our brougham, driving away. " Paraly- 
sis is perhaps the worst of all the physical punishments that 
can befall a ' rapid' lady." 

''Was she 'rapid' ?" 

" Well, — perhaps ' rapid' is too mild a term, but I can find 
no other," he answered. "When she was young, — she is 
barely fifty now, — she did everything that could be done by 
woman at her worst and wildest. She had scores of lovers, 
— and I believe one of them cleared off her husband's turf- 
debts, — the Earl consenting gladly, — on a rather pressing 

" What disgraceful conduct !" I exclaimed. 

He looked at me with an expression of cynical amusement. 

"Think so? The ' upper ten' quite condone that sort of 
thing in their own set now-a-days. It is all right. If a lady 
has lovers, and her husband beams benevolence on the situa- 
tion, what can be said? Nothing. How very tender your 
conscience is, Geoffrey !" 

I sat silent, thinking. My companion lit a cigarette and 
offered me one. I took it mechanically without lighting it. 

" I made a mistake this evening," he went on. " I should 
not have sung that -'Last Love-song." The fact is, the 


words were written by one of her ladyship's former admirers, 
a man who was something of a poet in his way, — and she had 
an idea that she was the only person living who had ever seen 
the lines. She wanted to know if I knew the man who com- 
posed them, and I was able to say that I did — very intimately. 
I was just explaining how it was, and why I knew him so well, 
when the distressing attack of convulsions came on, and fin- 
ished our conversation. ' ' 

'' She looked horrible !" I said. 

"The paralyzed Helen of a modern Troy? Yes, — her 
countenance at the last was certainly not attractive. Beauty 
combined with wantonness, frequently ends in the drawn 
twitch, fixed eye and helpless limbs of life-in-death. It is 
Nature's revenge on the outraged body, — and do you know. 
Eternity's revenge on the impure Soul is extremely similar?" 

'' What do you know about it?" I said, smiling in spite of 
myself, as I looked at his fine face, expressive of perfect health 
and splendid intellectuality. '* Your absurd fancies about the 
soul are the only traces of folly I discover in you." 

'* Really? Well I am glad I have something of the fool in 
my disposition, — foolishness being the only quality that 
makes wisdom possible. I confess I have odd, very odd 
notions about the soul." 

''I will excuse them," I said, laughing, — God forgive me, 
in my own insensate blind conceit, — the while he regarded 
me fixedly. '' In fact, I will excuse anything for the sake of 
your voice. I do not flatter you, Lucio, — you sing like an 
angel. ' ' 

"Don't use impossible comparisons," he replied. "Have 
you ever heard an angel sing?" 

"Yes !" I answered smiling — " I have, — this very night !" 

He turned deadly pale. 

**A very open compliment !" he said, forcing a laugh ; and 
with almost rough haste, he suddenly let down the window of 
the carriage, though the night was bitter cold. " This vehicle 
is suffocating me, — let us have some air. See how the stars 


are shining ! — like great crown jewels — Deity's regalia ! 
Hard frost, like hard times, brings noble works into promi- 
nence. Yonder, far off, is a star you can hardly perceive ; 
red as a cinder at times, and again blue as the lightning, — 
I can always discover it, though many cannot. It is Algol, 
— judged by superstitious folk to be an evil star. I love it 
chiefly on account of its bad reputation, — it is no doubt 
much maligned. It may be a cold quarter of hell where 
weeping spirits sit frozen in ice made of their own congealed 
tears, — or it may be a preparatory school for Heaven — who 
knows ! Yonder, too, shines Venus, — your star, Geoffrey ! — 
for you are in love, my friend ! — come confess it ! are you 

"I am not sure," I answered slowly. ''The phrase 'in 
love' scarcely describes my present feeling ..." 

''You have dropped these," he said suddenly, picking up 
a fast fading knot of violets from the floor of the brougham 
and holding them towards me. He smiled, as I uttered an 
exclamation of annoyance. They were Lady Sibyl's flowers 
which I had inadvertently let fall, and I saw he knew it. I 
took them from his hand in silence. 

"My dear fellow, do not try to hide your intentions from 
your best friend," he said seriously and kindly. "You 
wish to marry the Earl of Elton's beautiful daughter, and 
you shall. Trust me ! — I will do everything I can to promote 
your desire. ' ' 

"You will?" I exclaimed with unconcealed delight, for I 
fully recognised the influence he had over Sibyl's father. 

"I will, — I promise," he answered gravely. "I assure 
you that such a marriage would be one after my own heart. 
I'll do all I can for you, — and I have made many matches in 
my time. ' ' 

My heart beat high with triumph, — and when we parted 
that night I wrung his hand fervently, and told him I was 
devoutly grateful to the fates for sending me such a good 
friend as he was. 

/ 14* 


** Grateful to — whom did you say?" he asked with a whim- 
sical look. 

''To the Fates!" 

"Are you really? They are very ugly sisters I believe. 
Perhaps they were your ghostly visitors of last night !" 

''God forbid !" I ejaculated. 

" Ah ! God never forbids the fulfilment of His own laws !" 
he answered. " To do so He would have to destroy Himself." 

" If He exists at all !" I said carelessly. 

"True! If—!" 

And with this, we separated to our different quarters in the 
* Grand.' 


After that evening I became a regular and welcome visitor 
at Lord Elton's house, and was soon on terms of the most 
friendly intimacy with all the members of his family, including 
even the severely pious Miss Charlotte Fitzroy. It was not 
difficult for me to see that my matrimonial aspirations were 
suspected, — and though the encouragement I received from 
Lady Sibyl herself was so slight as to make me doubtful 
whether, after all, my hopes of winning her would ever be 
realized, the Earl made no secret of his delight at the idea of 
securing me as a son-in-law. Such wealth as mine was not to 
be met with every day, — and even had I been a blackleg of 
the turf, or a retired jockey, instead of an 'author,' I should, 
with five millions at my back, have been considered quite as 
desirable a suitor for the Lady Sibyl's hand. Rimanez scarcely 
ever went with me to the Eltons' now, pleading as excuse much 
pressing business and many social engagements. I was not 
altogether sorry for this. Greatly as I admired and honoured 
him, his extraordinary physical beauty and fascination of man- 
ner were in dangerous contrast to my merely ' ordinary good- 
looking' personality, and it seemed to me impossible that any 


woman, seeing much of him, could be expected to give me the 
preference. All the same I had no fear that he would ever 
voluntarily become my rival, — his antipathy to women was too 
deep-rooted and sincere for that. On this point indeed his 
feelings were so strong and passionate, that I often wondered 
why the society sirens who eagerly courted his attention re- 
mained so blind and unconscious to the chill cynicism that 
lurked beneath his seeming courtesy, — the cutting satire that 
was coupled with apparent compliment, and the intensity of 
hatred that flamed under the assumed expression of admiring 
homage in his flashing eyes. However, it was not my business 
to point out to those who could not or would not see, the end- 
less peculiarities of my friend's variable disposition. I did 
not pay much heed to them even so far as I myself was con- 
cerned, for I had grown accustomed to the quick changes he 
was wont to ring on all the gamut of human feeling, and 
absorbed in my own life-schemes I did not trouble myself to 
intimately study the man who had in a couple of months 
become my fidus Achates. I was engrossed at the moment in 
doing all I could to increase the Earl of Elton's appreciative 
sense of my value as a man and a millionaire, and to this end 
I paid some of his pressing debts, lent him a large sum of 
money without demanding interest or promise of repayment, 
and stocked his cellar with presents of such rare old wines 
as he had not been able to afl"ord to purchase for himself 
for many years. Thus was confidence easily engendered be- 
tween us, even to that point of affection which displayed itself 
in his lordship's readiness to thrust his arm through mine when 
we sauntered together down Piccadilly, and his calling me 
' my dear boy' in public. Never shall I forget the bewildered 
amazement of the scrubby little editor of a sixpenny magazine 
who met me face to face thus accompanied in the Park one 
morning ! That he knew the Earl of Elton by sight was evi- 
dent, and that he also knew me, his apoplectic stare confessed. 
He had pompously refused to even read any of my offered 
contributions on the ground that I had ' no name,' — and 


now ! — he would have given a month's salary if I had but 
condescended to recognize him. I did not so condescend, — 
but passed him by, listening to, and laughing with my intended 
future father-in-law, who was retailing an extremely ancient 
joke for my benefit. The incident was slight, even trumpery, 
— yet it put me in a good humour, for one of the chiefest 
pleasures I had out of my wealth was the ability to repay with 
vengeful interest all the contempt and insult that had beaten 
me back from every chance of earning a livelihood while I 
was poor. 

In all my visits to the Eltons, I never saw the paralyzed 
Countess again. Since the last terrible visitation of her dread 
disease, she had not moved. She merely lived and breathed 
— no more. Lord Elton told me that the worst part of her 
illness at present, so far as it affected those who had to attend 
upon her, was the particularly hideous alteration of her face. 

''The fact is," he said, not without a shudder, "she's 
dreadful to look at, — positively dreadful ! — no longer human, 
you know. She used to be a lovely woman, — now she is 
literally frightful. Her eyes especially ; — they are as scared 
and wild as if she had seen the devil. Quite an awful ex- 
pression I assure you ! — and it never alters. The doctors can 
do nothing — and of course it's very trying for Sibyl, and for 
everybody. ' ' 

I assented sympathetically ; and realizing that a house hold- 
ing such a figure of living death within it must of necessity be 
more or less gloomy and depressing to a young and vigorous 
nature, I lost no opportunity of giving Lady Sibyl whatever 
slight pleasures were in my power to procure for her distrac- 
tion and entertainment. Costly flowers, boxes for the opera 
and ' first nights' at the play, — every sort of attention that a 
man can pay to a woman without being considered officious or 
intrusive I offered, and was not repulsed. Everything pro- 
gressed well and favourably towards the easy attainment of my 
wishes, — I had no difficulties, no troubles of any kind, and 
I voluntarily led a life of selfishly absorbed personal gratifica- 


tion, being commended and encouraged therein by a whole 
host of flatterers and interested acquaintances. Willowsmere 
Court was mine ; and every newspaper in the kingdom had 
commented on the purchase, in either servile or spiteful para- 
graphs. My lawyers had warmly congratulated me on the 
possession of so admirable a property which they, in strict 
accordance with what they conceived to be their duty, had 
personally inspected and approved. The place was now in 
the hands of a firm of decorators and furnishers, recommended 
by Rimanez, and it was expected to be in perfect order for 
my habitation in early summer, at which time I purposed 
entertaining a large house-party of more or less distinguished 

Meantime, what I had once considered would be the great 
event of my life, took place, — namely the publication of my 
book. Trumpeted forth by the most heraldic advertisements, 
it was at last launched on the uncertain and fluctuating tide of 
public favour, and special * advance' copies were sent to the 
office of every magazine and journal in London. The day 
after this was done, Lucio, as I now familiarly called him, 
came into my room with a mysterious and mischievous air. 

" Geoffrey," he said, "Vm going to lend you five hundred 
pounds ! ' ' 

I looked up with a smile. 

'^What for?" 

He held out a cheque towards me. Glancing at it I saw 
that the sum he mentioned was filled in and endorsed with his 
signature, but that the name of the person to whom the money 
was to be made payable, had not yet been written. 

"Well ?— What does it mean?" 

*^It means," replied he, "that I am going to see Mr 
McWhing this morning. I have an appointment with him 
at twelve. You, as Geoffrey Tempest, the author of the 
book Mr McWhing is going to criticise and make a * boom' 
of, could not possibly put your name to such a cheque. It 
would not be 'good form' — it might crop up afterwards and 


so betray ' the secrets of the prison-house.' But for me it 
is another affair. I am going to * pose' as your business- 
man — your * literary agent' who pockets ten per cent of the 
profits, and wants to make a ' big thing' out of you, and I'm 
going to talk the matter over with the perfectly practical 
McWhing who has, like every true Scot, a keen eye for the 
main chance. Of course it will be in confidence, — strict 
confidence !" and he laughed. " It's aU a question of busi- 
ness you know, — in these commercial days, literature has 
become a trade like everything else, and even critics only 
work for what pays them. As indeed why should tliey 

''Do you mean to tell me McWhing will take that five 
hundred?" I asked dubiously. 

" I mean to tell you nothing of the kind. I would not put 
the matter so coarsely for the world ! This money is not for 
McWhing, — it is for a literary charity." 

" Indeed ! I thought you had an idea perhaps of offering 
a bribe . . ." 

'* Bribe! Good Heavens! Bribe a critic! Impossible, 
my good Geoffrey ! — such a thing was never heard of — 
never, never, never!" and he shook his head and rolled up 
his eyes with infinite solemnity. " No, no ! Press people 
never take money for anything, — not even for 'booming' a 
new gold-mining company, — not even for putting a notice of 
a fashionable concert into the Morning Post. Everything 
in the English press is the just expression of pure and lofty 
sentiment, believe me ! This little cheque is for a charity 
of which Mr McWhing is chief patron, — you see the Civil 
List pensions all go by favour to the wrong persons now-a- 
days ; to the keeping of lunatic versifiers, and retired ac- 
tresses who never could act— the actual bona-fide 'genius' 
never gets anything out of Government, and moreover would 
scorn to take a farthing from that penurious body, which 
grudges him anything higher than a money-recognition. It 
is as great an insult to offer a beggarly pension of fifty or a 


hundred pounds a year to a really great writer, as to give him 
a knighthood, — and we cannot fall much lower than to be a 
knight, as knights go. The present five hundred pounds will 
help to relieve certain * poor and proud' but pressing literary 
cases known to McWhing alone!" His expression at this 
moment was so extraordinary, that I entirely failed to fathom 
it. "I have no doubt I shall be able to represent the benev- 
olent and respectable literary agent to perfection — of course I 
shall insist on my ten per cent!" — and he began laughing 
again. ** But I can't stop to discuss the matter now with you 
— I'm off. I promised McWhing to be with him at twelve 
o'clock precisely, and it's now half- past-eleven. I shall prob- 
ably lunch with him, so don't wait for me. And concerning 
the five hundred, you needn't be in my debt an hour longer 
than you like — I'll take a cheque for the money back from 
you this evening." 

*' All right," I said. " But perhaps the great oracle of the 
cliques will reject your proposals with scorn." 

''If he does, then is Utopia realized!" replied Lucio, 
carefully drawing on his gloves as he spoke. '' Where's a copy 
of your book? Ah, here's one, smelling newly of the 
press," and he slipped the volume into his overcoat pocket. 
*' Allow me, before departure, to express the opinion that you 
are a singularly ungrateful fellow Geoffrey ! Here am I, per- 
fectly devoted to your interests, — and despite my ' prince- 
dom' actually prepared to ' pose' to McWing as your ' acting 
manager' pro tern, and you haven't so much as a ' thank-you' 
to throw at me ! ' ' 

He stood before me smiling, the personification of kindness 
and good humour. I laughed a little. 

'' McWhing will never take you for an acting manager or 
literary agent," I said. "You don't look it. If I seem 
churlish, I'm sorry — but the fact is I am disgusted . . ." * 

''At what?" he inquired, still smiling. 

"Oh, at the humbug of everything," I answered impa- 
tiently; "the stupid farce of it all. Why shouldn't a book 


get noticed on its own merits without any appeal to cliqiiism 
and influential wire-pulling on the press ?' ' 

'' Exactly !" and he delicately flicked a grain of dust off" his 
coat while speaking. " And why shouldn't a man get received 
in society on his own merits, without any money to recom- 
mend him, or any influential friend to back him up?" 

I was silent. 

"The world is as it is made," he went on, regarding me 
fixedly. "It is moved by the lowest and pettiest motives, — it 
works for the most trivial, ridiculous, and perishable aims. It 
is not a paradise. It is not a happy family of united and 
affectionate brethren. It is an over-populated colony of jab- 
bering and quarrelsome monkeys, who fancy they are men. 
Philosophers in old days tried to teach it that the monkey- 
type should be exterminated for the growth and encouragement 
of a nobler race,but they preached in vain, — there never were 
enough real men alive to overcome the swarming majority of 
the beasts. God Himself, they say, came down from Heaven 
to try and set wrong things right, and to restore if possible 
His own defaced image to the general aspect of humanity, — 
and even He failed." 

" There is very little of God in this world," I said bitterly. 
"There is much more Devil !" 

He smiled, — a musing, dreamy smile that transfigured his 
countenance and made him look like a fine Apollo absorbed in 
the thought of some new and glorious song. 

" No doubt !" he said, after a little pause. " Mankind cer- 
tainly prefer the devil to any other deity, — therefore if they 
elect him as their representative, it is scarcely to be wondered 
at that he governs, where he is asked to govern. And yet — 
do you know, Geoffrey — this devil, — if there is one, — can 
hardly, I think, be quite so bad as his detractors say. I my- 
self don't believe he is a whit worse than a nineteenth-century 
financier !" 

I laughed aloud at the comparison. 

"After that," I said, "you had better go to McWhing. I 


hope you will tell him that I am the triple essence of all the 
newest 'discoveries' rolled into one." 

'' Never fear !" returned Lucio. "I've learned all my stock- 
phrases by heart, — a 'star of the first magnitude,' etc., — I've 
read the AthcncEiiDi till I've got the lingo of the literary auc- 
tioneer well-nigh perfect, and I believe I shall acquit myself 
admirably. Au revoir !" 

He was gone ; and I, after a little desultory looking over 
my papers, went out to lunch at Arthur's, of whic h club I was 
now a member. On my way I stopped to look in at a book- 
seller's window to see if my ' immortal' production was yet on 
show. It was not, — and the volume put most conspicuously 
to the front among all the ' newest books' was one entitled 
' Differences. By Mavis Clare.' Acting on a sudden impulse 
I went in to purchase it. 

" Has this a good sale !" I asked, as the volume was handed 
to me. 

The clerk at the counter opened his eyes wide. 

"Sale?" he echoed, "Well, I should think so— rather ! 
Why, everybody's reading it !" 

"Indeed;" and I turned over the uncut pages carelessly. 
" I see no allusion whatever to it in the papers." 

The clerk smiled and shrugged his shoulders. 

" No — and you're not likely to, sir," he said. " Miss Clare 
is too popular to need reviews. Besides, a large number of 
the critics, the 'log-rollers' especially, are mad against her 
for her success, and the public know it. Only the other day 
a man came in here from one of the big newspaper offices 
aud told me he was taking a iQ\w notes on the books which 
had the largest sales, — would I tell him which author's works 
were most in demand ? I said Miss Clare took the lead, — 
as she does, — and he got into a regular rage. Said he, 
'That's the answer I've had all along the line, and however 
true it is, it's no use to me, because I dare not mention it. 
My editor would instantly scratch it out — he hates Miss 
Clare.' 'A precious editor you've got!' I said, and he 

H 15 


looked rather queer. There's nothing like journalism, sir, 
for the suppression of truth !" 

I smiled, and went away with my purchase, convinced that 
I had wasted a few shillings on a mere piece of woman's 
trash. If this Mavis Clare was indeed so 'popular,' then her 
work must naturally be of the ' penny dreadful' order, for I, 
like many another literary man, laboured under the ludicrous 
inconsistency of considering the public an ' ass' while I myself 
desired nothing so much as the said 'ass's' applause and 
approval ! — and therefore I could not imagine it capable of 
voluntarily selecting for itself any good work of literature 
without guidance from the critics. Of course I was wrong ; 
the great masses of the public in all nations are always led by 
some instinctive sense of right, that moves them to reject the 
false and unworthy, and select the true. Completely pre- 
pared, like most men of my type, to sneer and cavil at the 
book, chiefly because it was written by a feminine hand, I sat 
down in a retired corner of the club reading-room, and began 
to cut and skim the pages. I had not read many sentences 
before my heart sank with a heavy sense of fear and, — 
jealousy! — the slow fire of an insidious envy began to 
smoulder in my mind. What power had so gifted this 
author — this mere woman — that she should dare to write 
better than I ! And that she should force me, by the magic 
of her pen to mentally acknowledge, albeit with wrath and 
shame, my own inferiority ! Clearness of thought, brilliancy 
of style, beauty of diction, all these were hers, united to con- 
summate ease of expression and artistic skill, — and all at once, 
in the very midst of reading, such a violent impulse of in- 
sensate rage possessed me that I flung the book down, 
dreading to go on with it. The potent, resistless, unpurchas- 
able quality of Genius ! — ah, I was not yet so blinded by my 
own conceit as to be unable to recognise that divine fire 
when I saw it flashing up from every page, as I saw it now ; 
but, to be compelled to give that recognition to a woman i 
work, galled and irritated me almost beyond endurance. 


Women, I considered, should be kept in their places as men's 
drudges or toys, — as wives, mothers, nurses, cooks, menders 
of socks and shirts, and housekeepers generally, — what right 
had they to intrude into the realms of art and snatch the 
laurels from their masters' brows? If I could but get the 
chance of reviewing this book, I thought to myself savagely ! 
I would misquote, misrepresent, and cut it to shreds with a 
joy too great for words! This Mavis Clare — *unsexed,' as 
I at once called her in my own mind, simply because she 
had the power I lacked — wrote what she had to say with a 
gracious charm, freedom, and innate consciousness of strength, 
— a strength w^hich forced me back upon myself and filled 
me with the bitterest humiliation. Without knowing her I 
hated her, — this woman who could win fame without the aid 
of money, and who was crowned so brightly and visibly to 
the world that she was beyond criticism. I took up her book 
again, and tried to cavil at it, — over one or two dainty bits of 
poetic simile and sentiment I laughed, — enviously. When I 
left the club later in the day, 1 took the book with me, 
divided between a curious desire to read it honestly through, 
with justice to it and its author, and an impulse to tear it 
asunder and fling it into the road to be crushed in the mud 
under rolling cab and cart wheels. In this strange humour 
Rimanez found me, when at about four o'clock he returned 
from his mission to David McWhing, smiling and — triumphant. 

" Congratulate me, Geoffrey !" he exclaimed as he entered 
my room. "Congratulate me, and yourself! I am minus 
the five hundred pound cheque I showed you this morning !" 

''McWhing has pocketed it tlien," I said sullenly. "All 
right ! Much good may it do him, and his 'charity' !" 

Rimanez gave me a quick observant glance. 

"Why, what has happened to you since we parted?" he 
inquired, throwing off his overcoat and sitting down opposite 
to me. " You seem out of temper ! Yet you ought to be a 
perfectly happy man — for your highest ambition is about to be 
gratified. You said you wished to make your book and your 


self ' the talk of London,' — well, within the next two or three 
weeks you will see yourself praised in a very large number of 
influential newspapers as the newest discovered * genius' of the 
day, only a little way removed from Shakespeare himself (three 
of the big leading magazines are guaranteed to say that), and 
all this through the affability of Mr McWhing and the trifling 
sum of five hundred pounds ! And are you not satisfied ? 
Really, my friend, you are becoming difficult ! — I warned you 
that loo much good fortune spoils a man." 

With a sudden movement I flung down Mavis Clare's book 
before him. 

" Look at this," I said. " Does j-/z<? pay five hundred pounds 
to David McWhing's charity?" 

He took up the volume and glanced at it. 

'* Certainly not. But then, — she gets slandered, not criti- 

''What does that matter!" I retorted. "The man from 
whom I bought this book says that everybody is reading it." 

''Exactly !" and Rimanez surveyed me with a curious ex- 
pression, half of pity, half of amusement. "But you know 
the old axiom, my dear Geoffrey? — * you may lead a horse to 
the water but you cannot make him drink.' Which statement, 
interpreted for the present occasion, means that though cer- 
tain log-rollers, headed by our estimable friend McWhing, 
may drag the horse — i.e. the public — up to their own particu- 
larly prepared literary trough, they cannot force it to swallow 
the mixture. The horse frequently turns tail and runs away 
in search of its own provender, — it has done so in the case of 
Miss Clare. When the public choose an author for themselves, 
it is a dreadful thing of course for other authors, — but it really 
can't be helped !" 

"Why should they choose Mavis Clare?" I demanded 

"Ah, why indeed !" he echoed smiling. " McWhing would 
tell you they do it out o-f sheer idiotcy ; — the public would 
answer that they choose her because she has genius." 


** Genius!" I repeated scornfully. *'The public are per- 
fectly incapable of recognising such a quality !" 

"You think so !" he said still smiling — " you really think 
so? In that case it's very odd isn't it, how everything that 
is truly great in art and literature becomes so widely known 
and honoured, not only in this country, but in every civilized 
land where people think or study ? You must remember that 
all the very famous men and women have been steadily 
'written down' in their day, even to the late English Lau- 
reate, Tennyson, who was * criticised' for the most part in 
the purest ' Billingsgate' ; — it is only the mediocrities who 
are ever ' written up.' It seems as if the stupid public really 
had a hand in selecting these 'great,' for the reviewers would 
never stand them at any price, till driven to acknowledge 
them by the popular force inajeure. But considering the bar- 
barous want of culture and utter foolishness of the public, 
Geoffrey, what / wonder at, is that you should care to appeal 
to it at all!" 

I sat silent, — inwardly chafing under his remarks. 

*'I am afraid," he resumed, rising and taking a white 
flower from one of the vases on the table to pin in his button- 
hole, " that Miss Clare is going to be a thorn in your side, 
my friend ! A man rival in literature is bad enough, — but 
a woman rival is too much to endure with any amount of 
patience ! However, you may console yourself with the cer- 
tainty that she will never get 'boomed,' — while you — thanks 
to my tender fostering of the sensitive and high-principled 
McWhing, will be the one delightful and unique ' discovery' 
of the press for at least one month, perhaps two, which is 
about as long as any ' new star of the first magnitude' lasts in 
the latter-day literary skies. Shooting-stars, all of them ! — 
such as poor old forgotten Beranger sang of — 

" les etoiles qui filent, - 
' Qui filent, — qui filent — at disparait !' " 

•--* " i 

"Except — Mavis Clare !" I said. 



''True! Except Ma vi^Cla^e !" and he laughed aloud, — 
a laugh that jarred upon me because there was a note of 
mockery in it. '' She is a small fixture in the vast heavens, — 
or so it seems, — revolving very contentedly and smoothly 
in her own appointed orbit, — but she is not, and never will 
be attended by the brilliant meteor-flames that will burst 
round you^ my excellent fellow, at the signal of McWhing ! 
Fie, Geoffrey! — get over your sulks ! Jealous of a woman ! 
Be ashamed, — is not woman the inferior creature ! and shall 
the mere spectre of a feminine fame cause a five-fold million- 
aire to abase his lofty spirit in the dust ? Conquer your strange 
fit of the spleen, Geoffrey, and join me at dinner !" 

He laughed again as he left the room, — and again his 
laughter irritated me. When he had gone, I gave way to the 
base and unworthy impulse that had for some minutes been 
rankling within me, and sitting down at my writing table, 
penned a hasty note to the editor of a rather powerful maga- 
zine, a man whom I had formerly known and worked for. He 
was aware of my altered fortunes, and the influential position 
I now occupied, and I felt confident he would be glad to 
oblige me in any matter if he could. My letter, marked 
^private and confidential,' contained the request that I might 
be permitted to write for his next number, an anonymous 
'slashing' review of the new novel entitled 'Differences' by 
Mavis Clare. 


It is almost impossible for me to describe the feverish, 
irritated and contradictory state of mind in which I now 
began to pass my days. With the absolute fixity of my 
fortunes, my humours became more changeful than the wind, 
and I was never absolutely contented for two hours together. 
I joined in every sort of dissipation common to men of the 
day, who with the usual inanity of noodles, plunged into the 


filth of life merely because to be morally dirty was also at the 
moment fashionable, and much applauded by society. I 
gambled recklessly, solely for the reason that gambling was 
considered by many leaders of the ' upper ten' as indicative 
of 'manliness' and 'showing^;-//." 

** I hate a fellow who grudges losing a few pounds at play," 
said one of these * distinguished' titled asses to me once. '' It 
shows such a cowardly and currish disposition." 

Guided by this ' new' morality, and wishing to avoid the 
possibility of being called " cowardly and currish," I indulged 
in baccarat and other ruinous games almost every night, 
willingly losing the ' few pounds,' which in my case meant a 
few hundreds, for the sake of my occasional winnings, which 
placed a number of ' noble' rakes and blue-blooded blacklegs 
in my power for ' debts of honour,' which are supposed to be 
more strictly attended to and more punctually paid than any 
debts in the world, but which, as far as I am concerned, are 
still owing. I also betted heavily, on everything that could be 
made the subject of a bet, — and not to be behind my peers 
in ' style' and ' knowledge of the world' I frequented low 
houses, and allowed a few half-nude brandy-soaked dancers 
and vulgar music-hall 'artistes' to get a couple of thousand 
pounds worth of jewels out of me, because this sort of thing 
was called ' seeing life' and was deemed part of a ' gentle- 
man's' diversion. Heavens ! — what beasts we all were, I and 
my aristocratic boon companions ! — what utterly worthless, 
useless, callous scoundrels ! — and yet, — we associated with the 
be.^t and the highest in the land ; — the fairest and noblest ladies 
in London received us in their houses with smiles and softly- 
worded flatteries — we — whose presence reeked with vice ; we, 
* young men of fashion' whom, if he had known our lives as 
they were, an earnest cobbler working patiently for daily bread 
might have spat upon, in contempt and indignation that such 
low rascals should be permitted to burden the earth ! Some- 
times, but very seldom, Prince Rimanez joined our gambling 
and music-hall parties, and on such occasions I noticed that 


he, as it were, ' let himself go' and became the wildest of us 
all. But though wild, he was never coarse, — as we were ; his 
deep and mellow laughter had a sonorous richness in it that 
was totally unlike the donkey's ' hee-haw' of our * cultured' 
mirth, — his manners were never vulgar ; and his fluent discourse 
on men and things, now witty and satirical, now serious almost 
to pathos, strangely affected many of those who heard him talk, 
myself most of all. Once, I remember, when we were returning 
late from some foolish carouse, — I, with three young sons of 
English peers, and Rimanez walking beside us, — we came upon 
a poorly clad girl sobbing and clinging to the iron railing 
outside a closed church door. 

''O God!" she wailed— " O dear God! Do help me?" 

One of my companions seized her by the arm with a lewd 
jest, when all at once Rimanez stepped between. 

" Leave her alone !" he said sternly. *' Let her find God, 
if she can ! ' ' 

The girl looked up at him terrified, her eyes streaming with 
tears, and he dropped two or three gold pieces into her hand. 
She broke out crying afresh. 

' ' Oh, God bless you ?' ' she cried wildly. ' ' God bless you ! ' ' 

He raised his hat and stood uncovered in the moonlight, his 
dark beauty softened by a strangely wistful expression. 

*'I thank you!" he said simply. *'You make me your 

And he passed on ; we followed, somewhat subdued 
and silenced, though one of my lordling friends sniggered 

"You paid dearly for that blessing, Rimanez!" he said. 
"You gave her three sovereigns; — by Jove ! I'd have had 
something more than a blessing if I had been you." 

"No doubt!" returned Rimanez. "You deserve more, — • 
much more ! I hope you will get it ! A blessing would be of 
no advantage whatever Xo you ;—\\. is, to vie.'^ 

How often I have thought of this incident since ! I was too 
dense to attach either meaning or importance to it then, — self- 


absorbed as I was, I paid no attention to circumstances which 
seemed to have no connection with my own life and affairs. 
And in all my dissipations and so-called amusements, a perpet- 
ual restlessness consumed me, — I obtained no real satisfaction 
out of anything except my slow and somewhat tantalizing court- 
ship of Lady Sibyl. She was a strange girl ; she knew my in- 
tentions towards her well enough ; yet she affected not to know. 
Each time I ventured to treat her with more than the usual 
deference, and to infuse something of the ardour of a lover 
into my looks or manner, she feigned surprise. I wonder why 
it is that some women are so fond of playing the hypocrite in 
love ? Their own instinct teaches them when men are amorous ; 
but unless they can run the fox to earth, or in other words, re- 
duce their suitors to the lowest pitch of grovelling appeal, and 
force them to such abasement that the poor passion-driven 
fools are ready to fling away life, and even honour, dearer 
than life, for their sakes, their vanity is not sufficiently gratified. 
But who, or what am I that I should judge of vanity, — I whose 
egregious and flagrant self-approbation was of such a character 
that it blinded me to the perception and comprehension of 
everything in which my own Ego Avas not represented ! And 
yet, — with all the morbid interest I took in myself, my sur- 
roundings, my comfort, my social advancement, there was 
one thing which soon became a torture to me, — a veritable 
despair and loathing, — and this, strange to say was the very 
triumph I had most looked forward to as the crown and sum- 
mit of all my ambitious dreams. My book, — the book I had 
presumed to consider a work of genius, — when it was launched 
on the tide of publicity and criticism, resolved itself into a sort 
of literary monster that haunted my days and nights with its 
lustful presence ; the thick, black-lettered, lying advertisements 
scattered broadcast by my publisher flared at me with an offen- 
sive insistence in every paper I casually opened. And the 
praise of the reviewers ! . . . the exaggerated, preposterous, 
fraudulent ' boom' ! Good God ! — how sickening it was ! — how 
fulsome 1 Every epithet of flattery bestowed upon me filled me 


with disgust, and one day when I took up a leading magazine 
and saw a long article upon the ' extraordinary brilliancy and 
promise' of my book, comparing me to a new ^schylus and 
Shakespeare combined, with the signature of David McWhing 
appended to it, I could have thrashed that erudite and 
assuredly purchased Scot within an inch of his life. The 
chorus of eulogy was well-nigh universal ; I was the ' genius 
of the day,' the 'hope of the future generation,' — I was the 
" Book of the Month," — the greatest, the wittiest, most versa- 
tile, most brilliant scribbling pigmy that had ever honoured a 
pot of ink by using it ! Of course I figured as McWhing's 
' discovery,' — five hundred pounds bestowed on his mysterious 
' charity' had so sharpened his eyesight that he had perceived 
me shining brightly on the literary horizon before anyone 
else had done so. The press followed his ' lead' obediently ; 
for though the press, the English press at least, is distinctly 
unbribable, the owners of newspapers are not insensible to the 
advantages of largely paying advertisements. Moreover, when 
Mr. McWhing announced me as his ' find' in the oracular 
style which distinguished him, some other literary gentlemen 
came forward and wrote effective articles about me, and sent 
me their compositions carefully marked. I took the hint, — 
wrote at once to thank them, and invited them to dinner. 
They came and feasted royally with Rimanez and myself; — 
(one of them wrote an ' Ode' to me afterwards), — and at the 
conclusion of the revels, we sent two of the ' oracles' home, 
considerably overcome by champagne, in a carriage, with 
Amiel to look after them and help them out at their own 
doors. And my ' boom' expanded, — London ' talked' as I had 
said it should ; the growling monster metropolis discussed me 
and my work in its own independent and peculiar fashion. 
The ' upper ten' subscribed to the circulating libraries, and 
Mudie made a couple of hundred copies do for all demands, 
by the simple expedient of keeping subscribers waiting five 
or six weeks till they grew tired of asking for the book, and 
forgot all about it. Apart from the libraries, the public did 


not take me up. From the glowing criticisms that appeared 
in all the papers, it might have been supposed that * everybody 
who was anybody' was reading my ' wonderful' production. 
Such, however, was not the case. People spoke of me as ' the 
great millionaire,' but they were indifferent to the bid I had 
made for literary fame. The remark they usually made to 
me wherever I went was — " You have written a novel, haven't 
you? What an odd thing for you to do!" — this, with a 
laugh ; — "■ I haven't read it, — I've so little time, — I must ask 
for it at the library. ' ' Of course a great many never did ask, 
not deeming it worth their while ; and I whose money, com- 
bined with the resistless influence of Rimanez, had started 
the favourable criticisms that flooded the press, found out 
that the majority of the public never read criticisms at all. 
Hence, my anonymous review of Mavis Clare's book made 
no effect whatever on her popularity, though it appeared in 
the most prominent manner. It was a sheer waste of labour, 
— for everywhere this woman author was still looked upon as 
a creature of altogether finer clay than ordinary, and still her 
book was eagerly devoured and questioned and admired ; and 
still it sold by thousands, despite a lack of all favourable 
criticism or prominent advertisement. No one guessed that 
I had written what I am now perfectly willing to admit was a 
brutally wanton misrepresentation of her work, — no one, 
except Rimanez. The magazine in which it appeared was a 
notable one, circulating in every club and library, and he, 
taking it up casually one afternoon, turned to that article at 

''You wrote this!" he said, fixing his eyes upon me. 
'' It must have been a great relief to your mind !" 

I said nothing. 

He read on in silence for a little ; then, laying down the 
magazine, looked at me with a curiously scrutinizing expres- 

''There are some human beings so constituted," he said, 
" that if they had been with Noah in the ark according to the 


silly old legend, they would have shot the dove bearing the 
olive-leaf, directly it came in sight over the waste of waters. 
You are of that type, Geoffrey." 

*' I do not see the force of your comparison," I murmured. 

*'Do you not? Why, what harm has this Mavis Clare 
done to you? Your positions are entirely opposed. You are 
a millionaire ; she is a hard-working woman dependent on 
her literary success for a livelihood, and you, rolling in wealth 
do your best to deprive her of the means of existence. Does 
this redound to your credit ? She has won her fame by her 
own brain and energy alone, — and even if you dislike her 
book, need you abuse her personally as you have done in 
this article? You do not know her; you have never seen 
her . . ." 

'' I hate women who write !" I said vehemently. 

''Why? Because they are able to exist independently? 
Would you have them all the slaves of man's lust or conve- 
nience? My dear Geoffrey, you are unreasonable If you 
admit that you are jealous of this woman's celebrity and 
grudge it to her, then I can understand your spite, for jealousy 
is capable of murdering a fellow-creature with either the 
dagger or the pen." 

I was silent. 

** Is the book such wretched stuff as you make it out to be?" 
he asked presently. 

"I suppose some people might admire it," I said curtly; 
"I do not." 

This was a lie ; and of course he knew it was a lie. The 
work of Mavis Clare had excited my most passionate envy — 
while the very fact that Sibyl Elton had read her book before 
she had thought of looking at mine, had accentuated the 
bitterness of my feelings. 

** Well," said Rimanez at last, smiling as he finished read- 
ing my onslaught, "all I can say, Geoffrey, is that this will 
not touch Mavis Clare in the least. You have overshot the 
mark, my friend ! Her public will simply cry, ' What a 


shame !' and clamour for her work more than ever. And as 
for the woman herself, — she has a merry heart, and she will 
laugh at it. You must see her some day." 

" I don't want to see her," I said. 

" Probably not. But you will scarcely be able to avoid 
doing so when you live at Willowsmere Court." 

" One is not obliged to know everybody in the neighbour- 
hood," I observed superciliously. 

Lucio laughed aloud. 

*' How well you carry your fortunes, Geoffrey !" he said. 
" For a poor devil of a Grub-street hack, who lately was at a 
loss for a sovereign, how perfectly you follow the fashions of 
your time ! If there is one man more than another that 
moves me to wondering admiration it is he who asserts his 
wealth strenuously in the face of his fellows, and who com- 
ports himself in this world as though he could bribe death 
and purchase the good-will of the Creator. It is such splendid 
effrontery, — such superlative pride ! Now I, though over- 
wealthy myself, am so curiously constituted that I cannot wear 
my bank-notes in my countenance as it were, — I have put in 
a claim for intellect as well as gold, — and sometimes, do you 
know, in my travels round the world, I have been so far hon- 
oured as to be taken for quite a poor man! Now you will 
never have that chance again ; — you are rich and you look it !" 

" And you, — " I interrupted him suddenly, and with some 
warmth, — *' do you know what you look? You imply that I 
assert my wealth in my face ; do you know wha.t you assert in 
your every glance and gesture?" 

" I cannot imagine !" he said smiling. 

" Contempt for us all !" I said, — " immeasurable contempt, 
— even for me, whom you call friend. I tell you the truth 
Lucio, — there are times when, in spite of our intimacy, I feel 
that you despise me. I daresay you do ; you have an extraor- 
dinary personality united to extraordinary talents ; yon must 
not, however, expect all men to be as self-restrained and as in- 
different to human passions as yourself." 



He gave me a swift, searching glance. 

" Expect !" he echoed. '' My good fellow, I expect nothing 
at all, — from men. They, on the contrary, — at least all those 
/ know, — expL'ct everything from me. And they get it, — 
generally. As for * despising' you, have I not said that I 
admire you ? I do. I think there is something positively 
stupendous in the brilliant progress of your fame and rapid 
social success." 

''My fame!" I repeated bitterly. ''How has it been ob- 
tained ? What is it worth ?" 

"That is not the question," he retorted, with a little 
smile. " How unpleasant it must be for you to have these 
gouty twinges of conscience, Geoffrey ! Of course no fame is 
actually worth much now-a-days, — because it is not classic 
fame, strong in reposeful old-world dignity, — it is blatant, 
noisy notoriety merely. But yours, such as it is, is perfectly 
legitimate, judged by its common-sense commercial aspect, 
which is the only aspect in which anyone looks at anything. 
You must bear in mind that no one works out of disin- 
terestedness in the present age, — no matter how purely 
benevolent an action may appear on the surface. Self lies 
at the bottom of it. Once grasp this fact, and you will 
perceive that nothing could be fairer or more straightforward 
than the way you have obtained your fame. You have not 
' bought' the incorruptible British Press ; you could not do 
that ; that is impossible, for it is immaculate and bristles 
stiffly all over with honourable principles. There is no English 
paper existing that would accept a cheque for the insertion 
of a notice or a paragraph; not one!" His eyes twinkled 
merrily, — then he went on, — "No, — it is only the Foreign 
Press that is corrupt, so the British Press says ; — John Bull 
looks on virtuously aghast at journalists who, in dire stress of 
poverty, will actually earn a little extra pay for writing some- 
thing or somebody ' up' or ' down.* Thank Heaven, he em- 
ploys no such journalists ; his pressmen are the very soul of 
rectitude, and will stoically subsist on a pound a week rather 


than take ten for a casual job ^ to oblige a friend.' Do you 
know, Geoffrey, when the Judgment Day arrives, who will be 
among the first saints to ascend to Heaven with the sounding 
of trumpets ?" 

I shook my head, half vexed, half amused. 

" All the English (not foreign) editors and journalists!" 
said Lucio with an air of pious rapture. " And why? Be- 
cause they are so good, so just, so unprejudiced ! Their 
foreign brethren will be reserved for the eternal dance of devils 
of course — bnt the Britishers will pace the golden streets 
singing Alleluia ! I assure you I consider British journalists 
generally the noblest examples of incorruptibility in the 
world — they come next to the clergy as representatives of 
virtue, and exponents of the three evangelical counsels, — 
voluntary poverty, chastity, and obedience !" Such mockery 
glittered in his eyes, that the light in them might have been 
the reflection of clashing steel. " Be consoled, Geoffrey," he 
resumed, — " your fame is honourably won. You have simply, 
through me, approached one critic who writes in about 
twenty newspapers and influences others to write in other 
twenty, — that critic being a noble creature (all critics are 
noble creatures), has a pet ' society' for the relief of authors 
in need (a noble scheme you will own), and to this charity I 
subscribe, out of pure benevolence, five hundred pounds. 
Moved by my generosity and consideration (particularly as I 
do not ask what becomes of the five huudred), McWhing 
' obliges' me in a little matter. The editors of the papers for 
which he writes accept him as a wise and witty personage ; 
they know nothing about the charity or the cheque, — it is not 
necessary for them to know. The whole thing is really quite 
a reasonable business arrangement ; — it is only a self-torment- 
ing analyst like you who would stop to think of such a trifle a 
second time." 

" If McWhing really and conscientiously admired my book 
for itself, ' ' I began. 

''Why should you imagine he does not?" asked Lucio. 


*' Myself, I believe that he is a perfectly sincere and honorable 
man. I think he means all he says and writes. I consider 
that if he had found your work not worthy of his commenda- 
tion, he would have sent me back that cheque for five hundred 
pounds, torn across in a noble scorn !" 

And with this, throwing himself back in his chair, he 
laughed till the tears came into his eyes. 

But I could not laugh; I was too weary and depressed. A 
heavy sense of despair was on my mind ; I felt that the hope 
which had cheered me in my days of poverty, — the hope of 
winning real Fame, so widely different a thing to notoriety, 
had vanished. There was some quality in the subtle glory 
which could not be won by either purchase or influence. The 
praise of the press could not give it. Mavis Clare, working 
for her bread, had it, — I, with millions of money, had not. 
Like a fool I had thought to buy it ; I had yet to learn that 
all the best, greatest, purest and worthiest things in life are 
beyond all market value, and that the gifts of the gods are not 
for sale. 

About a fortnight after the publication of my book, we went 
to Court, my comrade and I, and were presented by a dis- 
tinguished officer connected with the immediate and intimate 
surroundings of the Royal household. It was a brilliant scene 
enough, — but, without doubt, the most brilliant personage 
there was Rimanez. I was fairly startled at the stately and 
fascinating figure he made in his court suit of black velvet and 
steel ornaments ; accustomed as I was to his good looks, I had 
never seen them so enhanced by dress as on this occasion. I 
had been tolerably well satisfied with my own appearance in 
the regulation costume till I saw him ; then my personal 
vanity suffered a decided shock, and I realized that I merely 
served as a foil to show off and accentuate the superior at- 
tractions of my friend. But I was not envious of him in any 
way, — on the contrary I openly expressed the admiration I 
frankly felt. 

He seemed amused. '* My dear boy, it is all flunkeydom," 


he said, — ''all sham and humbug. Look at this," — and he 
drew his light court rapier from its sheath, — " there is no real 
use in this flimsy blade, — it is merely an emblem of dead 
chivalry. In old times, if a man insulted you, or insulted a 
woman you admired, out flashed a shining point of tempered 
Toledo steel that could lunge — so!" and he threw himself 
into a fencing attitude of incomparable grace and ease, — " and 
you pricked the blackguard neatly through the ribs or arm 
and gave him cause to remember you. But now" — and he 
thrust the rapier back in its place — " men carry toys like these 
as a melancholy sign to show what bold fellows they were once, 
and what spiritless cravens they are now, — relying no more 
on themselves for protection, but content to go about yelling 
' Police ! Police !' at the least threat of injury to their worth- 
less persons. Come, it's time we started, Geoffrey ! — let us 
go and bow our heads before another human unit formed pre- 
cisely like ourselves, and so act in defiance of Death and the 
Deity, who declare all men to be equal ! ' ' 

We entered our carriage and were soon on our way to St 
James's Palace. 

''His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is not exactly 
the Creator of the universe," said Lucio suddenly, looking 
out of the window as we approached the line of soldiery on 
guard outside. 

" Why, no 1" I answered laughing. " What do you say that 

" Because there is as much fuss about him as if he were, — 
in fact, more. The Creator does not get half as much atten- 
tion bestowed upon Him as Albert Edward. We never attire 
ourselves in any special way for entering the presence of God ; 
we don't put so much as a clean mind on." 

"But then," I said indifferently, "God is /ion est, — and 
Albert Edward is est.'' 

He smiled, — and his eyes had a scornful gleam in their dark 

"That is your opinion?" he queried. "Well, it is not 



original, — many choice spirits share it with you. There is at 
least one good excuse for people who make no preparation to 
enter the presence of God, — in going to church, which is 
called the ' house of God,' they do not find God at all ; they 
only discover the clergyman. It is somewhat of a disappoint- 

I had no time to reply, as just then the carriage stopped, 
and we alighted at the palace. Through the intervention of 
the high Court official who presented us, we got a good place 
among the most distinguished arrivals, and during our brief 
wait, I was considerably amused by the study of their faces 
and attitudes. Some of the men looked nervous, — others con- 
ceited ; one or two Radical notabilities comported themselves 
with an air as if they, and they alone, were to be honoured for 
allowing Royalty to hold these functions at all ; a few gentle- 
men had evidently donned their Levee dress in haste and care- 
lessness, for the pieces of tissue-paper in which their steel or 
gilt coat-buttons had been wrapped by the tailor to prevent 
tarnish, were still unremoved. Discovering this fortunately 
before it was too late, they occupied themselves by taking off 
these papers and casting them on the floor, — an untidy process 
at best, and one that made them look singularly ridiculous 
and undignified. Each man present turned to stare at Lucio ; 
his striking personality attracted universal attention. When 
we at last entered the throne-room, and took our places in 
line, I was careful to arrange that my brilliant companion 
should go up before me, as I had a strong desire to see what 
sort of an effect his appearance would produce on the Royal 
party. I had an excellent view of the Prince of Wales from 
where I myself waited ; he made an imposing and kingly 
figure enough, in full uniform with his various Orders glitter- 
ing on his broad breast; and the singular resemblance dis- 
covered by many people in him to Henry VHI. struck me 
more forcibly than I should have thought possible. His face, 
however, expressed a far greater good-humour than the pictured 
lineaments of the capricious but ever popula|-j '' bluff King 


Ha1," — though on this occasion there was a certain shade of 
melancholy, even sternness on his brow, which gave a firmer 
character to his naturally mobile features, — a shadow, as I 
fancied of weariness, tempered with regret, — the look of one 
dissatisfied, yet resigned. A man of blunted possibilities he 
seemed tome, — of defeated aims, and thwarted will. Few of 
the other members of the Ro3al family surrounding him on 
the dais possessed the remarkable attraction he had for any 
observant student of physiognomy, — most of them were, or 
assumed to be, stiff military figures merely, who bent their 
heads as each guest filed past with an automatic machine- 
like regularity implying neither pleasure, interest, nor good- 
will. But the Heir-Apparent to the greatest Empire in the 
world expressed, in his very attitude and looks, an unaf- 
fected and courteous welcome to all, — surrounded as he 
was, and as such in his position must ever be, by toadies, 
parasites, sycophants, hypocritical selfseekers, who would 
never run the least risk to their own lives to serve him, 
unless they could get something personally satisfactory out 
of him, his presence impressed itself upon me as suggestive 
of dormant but none the less resolute power. I cannot even 
now explain the singular excitation of mind that seized me as 
our turn to be presented arrived ; — I saw my companion ad- 
vance, and heard the Lord Chamberlain announce his name ; 
'Prince Lucio Rimanez;' and then; — why then, it seemed 
as if all the movement in the brilliant room suddenly came to 
a pause ! Every eye was fixed on the stately form and noble 
countenance of my friend as he bowed with such consummate 
courtliness and grace as made all other salutations seem awk- 
ward by comparison. For one moment he stood absolutely 
still in front of the Royal dais ; facing the Prince as though 
he sought to impress him with the fact of his presence there, — 
and across the broad stream of sunshine which had been pour- 
ing into the room throughout the ceremony, there fell the 
sudden shadow of a passing cloud. A fleeting impression of 
gloom and silence chilled the atmosphere,— a singular mag- 


netism appeared to hold all eyes fixed on Rimanez ; and not 
a man either going or coming, moved. This intense hush 
was brief as it was curious and impressive ; — the Prince of 
Wales started slightly, and gazed at the superb figure before 
him with an expression of eager curiosity, and almost as if he 
were ready to break the frigid bonds of etiquette and speak, — 
then controlling himself with an evident effort, he gave his 
usual dignified acknowledgment of Lucio's profound rever- 
ence, whereupon my comrade passed on, slightly smiling. I 
followed next, — but naturally made no impression beyond the 
fact of exciting a smothered whisper from someone among 
the lesser Royalties who caught the name ' Geoffrey Tem- 
pest,' and at once murmured the magic words ''Five mil- 
lions!" — words which reached my ears and moved me to 
the usual weary contempt which was with me growing into 
a chronic malady. We were soon out of the palace, and 
while waiting for our carriage in the covered court-yard 
entrance, I touched Rimanez on the arm. 
''You made a veritable sensation, Lucio !" 
" Did I?" He laughed. " You flatter me, Geoffrey." 
"Not at all. Why did you stop so long in front of the 

" To please my humour !" he returned indifferently. "And 
partly, to give his Royal Highness the chance of remembering 
me the next time he sees me." 

"But he seemed to recognise you," I said. "Have you 
met him before ?' ' 

His eyes flashed. "Often! But I have never till now 
made a public appearance at St James's. Court costume 
and ' company manners' make a difference to the looks of 
most men,— and I doubt,— yes, I very much doubt, whether, 
even with his reputed excellent memory for faces, the Prince 
really knew me to-day for what I am ! " 



It must have been about a week or ten days after the Levee 
that I had the strange scene with Sibyl Elton I am about 
to relate ; a scene that left a painful impression on my mind 
and should have been sufficient to warn me of impending 
trouble to come had I not been too egotistical to accept any 
portent that presaged ill to myself. Arriving at Lord Elton's 
house one evening, and ascending the stairs to the drawing- 
room as was now my usual custom, unannounced and without 
ceremony, I found Diana Chesney there alone and in tears. 

"Why, what's the matter?" I exclaimed in a rallying tone, 
for I was on very friendly and familiar terms with the little 
American. " You, of all people in the world, having a private 
* weep' ! Has our dear railway papa ' bust up' ?" 

She laughed, a trifle hysterically. 

'' Not just yet, you bet !" she answered, lifting her wet eyes 
to mine and showing that mischief still sparkled brightly in 
them. " There's nothing wrong with the funds as far as I 
know. I've only had a — well — a sort of rumpus here with 

"With Sibyl?" 

" Yes," — and she rested the point of her little embroidered 
shoe on a footstool and looked at it critically. " You see it's 
the Catsups' ' At Home' to-night, and I'm invited and Sibyl's 
invited ; Miss Charlotte is knocked up with nursing the 
Countess, and I of course made sure that Sibyl would go. 
Well, she never said a word about it till she came down to 
dinner, and then she asked me what time I wanted the car- 
riage. I said, ' Are you going too ?' and she looked at me in 
that provoking way of hers, you know ! — a look that takes you in 
from your topmost hair to your shoe-edge, and answered, '■ Did 
you think it possible !' Well, I flared up, and said of course 
I thought it possible, — why shouldn't it be possible? She 


looked at me in the same way again and said, ' To the Cat- 
sups ? with you /' Now, you know, Mr Tempest, that was 
real downright rudeness, and more than I could stand, so I just 
gave way to my mind. ' Look here, ' I said — ' though you are 
the daughter of an Earl, you needn't turn up your nose at 
Mrs Catsup. She isn't half bad, — I don't speak of her 
money, — but she's a real good sort, and has a kind heart, 
which it appears to me is more than you have. Mrs Catsup 
would never treat me as unkindly as you do.' And then I 
choked, — I could have burst out in a regular yell, if I hadn't 
thought the footman might be outside the door, listening. 
And Sibyl only smiled, that patent ice-refrigerator smile of 
hers, and asked, * Would you prefer to live with Mrs Catsup ?' 
Of course I told her no, — nothing would induce me to live 
with Mrs Catsup, and then she said, ' Miss Chesney, you pay 
my father for the protection and guarantee of his name and 
position in English social circles, but the companionship of 
my father's daughter was not included in the bargain. I have 
tried to make you understand as distinctly as I can that I will 
not be seen in society with you, — not because I dislike you, — 
far from it, — but simply because people would say I was acting 
as your paid companion. You force me to speak plainly, and 
I am sorry if I offend. As for Mrs Catsup, I have only met 
her once, and she seemed to me very common and ill-bred. 
Besides I do not care for the society of tradespeople.' And 
with that she got up and sailed out, — and I heard her order 
the carriage for me at ten. It's coming round directly, and 
just look at my red eyes ! It's awfully hard on me, — I know 
old Catsup made his pile out of varnish, but varnish is as good 
as anything else in the general market. And — and — it's all 
out now, Mr Tempest, — and you can tell Sibyl what I've said 
if you like; I know you're in love with her." 

I stared, bewildered by her voluble and almost breathless 

*' Really, Miss Chesney," I began formally. 

*' Oh, yeS; Miss Chesney, Miss Chesney — it's all very well !" 


she repeated impatiently, snatching up a gorgeous evening 
cloak which I mutely volunteered to put on, an offer she as 
mutely accepted. ''I'm only a girl, and it isn't my fault if 
I've got a vulgar man for a father who wants to see me 
married to an English nobleman before he dies, — that's his 
look-out — / don't care about it. English noblemen are a 
rickety lot in my opinion. But I've as good a heart as any- 
one, and I could love Sibyl if she'd let me, but she won' t. 
She leads the life of an ice-berg, and doesn't care a rap for 
anyone. She doesn't care for you, you know ! — I wish she 
did, — she'd be more human !" 

"I'm very sorry for all this," I said, smiling into the 
piquante face of the really sweet-natured girl, and gently 
fastening the jewelled clasp of her cloak at her throat. " But 
you mustn't mind it so much. You are a dear little soul, 
Diana, — kind and generous and impulsive, and all the rest of 
it, — but — well — English people are very apt to misunderstand 
Americans. I can quite enter into your feelings, — still, you 
know Lady Sibyl is very proud ' ' 

"Proud?" she interrupted. "My! I guess it must feel 
something splendid to have an ancestor who was piked through 
the body on Bosworth field, and left there for the birds to 
eat. It seems to give a kind of stiffness in the back to all 
the family ever afterwards. Shouldn't wonder if the de- 
scendants of the birds who ate him felt kinder stuck up about 
it too!" 

I laughed ; she laughed with me, and was quite herself 

" If I told you my ancestor was a Pilgrim Father, you 
wouldn't believe me I expect !" she said, the corners of her 
mouth dimpling. 

"I should believe anything from your lips!" I declared 

" Well, believe that, then ! Swallow it down if you can ! 
I can't. He was a Pilgrim Father in the Mayflower, and 
he fell on his knees and thanked God as soon as he touched 


dry land in the true Pilgrim Father way. But he couldn't 
hold a candle to the piked man at Bosworth." 

Here we were interrupted by the entrance of a footman. 

** The carriage is waiting, Miss." 

** Thanks, — all right. Good-night, Mr Tempest, — you'd 
better send word to Sibyl you are here ; Lord Elton is dining 
out, but Sibyl will be at home all the evening." 

I offered her my arm, and escorted her to the carriage, 
feeling a little sorry for her as she drove off in solitary state 
to the festive ' crush' of the successful varnisher. She was a 
good girl, a bright girl, a true girl, — vulgar and flippant at 
times, yet on the whole sincere in her better qualities of 
character and sentiment, — and it was this very sincerity which, 
being quite unconventional and not at all la mode, was mis- 
understood and would always be misunderstood by the higher 
and therefore more hypocritically polished circles of English 

I returned to the drawing-room slowly and meditatively, 
telling one of the servants on my way to ask Lady Sibyl if she 
could see me for a few moments. I was not kept waiting 
long ; I had only paced the room twice up and down when 
she entered, looking so strangely wild and beautiful that I 
could scarcely forbear uttering an exclamation of wonder. 
She wore white as was always her custom in the evenings, — 
her hair was less elaborately dressed than usual, and clustered 
over her brow in loose wavy masses, — her face was exceed- 
ingly pale, and her eyes appeared larger and darker by com- 
parison, — her smile was vague and fleeting like that of a sleep- 
walker. She gave me her hand ; it was dry and burning. 

*' My father is out," she began. 

'* I know. But I came to see j^//;. May I stay a little?" 

She murmured assent, and sinking listlessly into a chair, 
began to play with some roses in a vase on the table beside 

*' You look tired. Lady Sibyl," I said gently. ''Are you 
not well?" 


"I am quite well," she answered. " But you are right in 
saying I am tired. I am dreadfully tired !" 

*' You have been doing too much perhaps? — your attend- 
ance on your mother tries you " 

She laughed bitterly. 

"Attendance on my mother ! — pray do not credit me with 
so much devotion. I never attend on my mother. I can- 
not do it ; I am too much of a coward. Her face terrifies 
me ; and whenever I do venture to go near her, she tries to 
speak, with such dreadful, such ghastly efforts, as make her 
more hideous to look at than anyone can imagine. I should 
die of fright if I saw her often. As it is when I do see her 
I can scarcely stand — and twice I have fainted with the 
horror of it. To think of it ! — that that living corpse with 
the fearful fixed eyes and distorted mouth should actually be 
my 77iother. ' ' 

She shuddered violently, and her very lips paled as she 
spoke. I was seriously concerned, and told her so. 

''This must be very bad for your health," I said, drawing 
my chair closer to hers. ''Can you not get away for a 

She looked at me in silence. The expression of her eyes 
thrilled me strangely, — it was not tender or wistful, but fierce, 
passionate and commanding. 

"I saw Miss Chesney for a few moments just now," I re- 
sumed. " She seemed very unhappy." 

"She has nothing to be unhappy about," said Sibyl 
coldly — "except the time my mother takes in dying. But 
she is young ; she can afford to wait a little for the Elton 
coronet. ' ' 

"Is not — may not this be a mistaken surmise of yours?" 
I ventured to say gently. " AVhatever her faults, I think the 
girl admires and loves you." 

She smiled scornfully. 

"I want neither her love nor her admiration," she said. 
"I have few women-friends, and those few are all hypocrites 
I n 17 


whom I mistrust. When Diana Chesney is my step-mother, we 
shall still be strangers." 

I felt I was on delicate ground, and that I could not continue 
the conversation without the risk of giving offence. 

*' W^here is yotir friend?" asked Sibyl suddenly, apparently 
to change the subject. ''Why does he so seldom come here 

*' Rimanez? Well, he is a very queer fellow, and at times 
takes an abhorrence for all society. He frequently meets your 
father at the club, and I suppose his reason for not coming here 
is that he hates women." 

"All women?" she queried with a little smile. 

'' Without exception !" 

*' Then he hates me?" 

" I did not say that," I answered quickly. " No one could 
hate you. Lady Sibyl, — but truly, as far as Prince Rimanez is 
concerned, I expect he does not abate his aversion to woman- 
kind (which is his chronic malady) even for you." 

" So he will never marry?" she said musingly. 

I laughed. "Oh, never! That you may be quite sure 

Still playing with the roses near her, she relapsed into 
silence. Her breath came and went quickly ; I saw her long 
eyelashes quiver against the pale rose-leaf tint of her cheeks, — 
the pure outline of her delicate profile suggested to my mind 
one of Fra Angelico's meditative saints or angels. All at once, 
while I yet watched her admiringly, she suddenly sprang erect, 
crushing a rose in her hand, her head thrown back, her eyes 
flashing, her whole frame trembling. 

"Oh, I cannot bear it!" she cried wildly. "I cannot 
bear it !" 

I started up astonished, and confronted her. 


" Oh, why don't you speak, and fill up the measure of my 
degradation !" she went on passionately. " Why don't you tell 
me, as you tell my father, your purpose in coming here? 



Why don't you say to ;;/<?, as you say to him, that your sover- 
eign choice has fastened upon me, — that I am the woman out 
of all the world you have elected to marry ! Look at me ! ' ' 
and she raised her arms with a tragic gesture. "Is there any 
flaw in the piece of goods you wish to purchase ? This face 
is deemed worthy of the fashionable photographer's pains ; 
worthy of being sold for a shilling as one of England's ' beau 
ties,'— this figure has served as a model for the showing- 
off of many a modiste's costume, purchased at half-cost on 
the understanding that I must state to my circle of acquaint- 
ance the name of the maker or designer, — these eyes, these 
lips, these arms are all yours for the buying ! Why do you 
expose me to the shame of dallying over your bargain ? — by 
hesitating and considering as to whether, after all, I am worthy 
of your gold !" 

She seemed seized by some hysterical passion that convulsed 
her, and in mingled amazement, alarm and distress, I sprang 
to her and caught her hands in my own. 

''Sibyl, Sibyl!" I said, ''hush — hush! You are over- 
wrought with fatigue and excitement, — you cannot know what 
you are saying. My darling, what do you take me for? — what 
is all this nonsense in your mind about buying and selling ? 
You know I love you, — I have made no secret of it, — you 
must have seen it in my face, — and if I have hesitated to 
speak, it is because I feared your rejection of me. You are 
too good for me Sibyl, — too good for any man, — I am not 
worthy to win your beauty and innocence. My love, my love, 
do not give way in this manner," — for as I spoke she clung 
to me like a wild bird suddenly caged. " What can I say to 
you, but that I worship you with all the strength of my life, — 
I love you so deeply that I am afraid to think of it ; it is a 
passion I dare not dwell upon, Sibyl, — I love you too well, — 
too madly for my own peace " 

I trembled, and was silent, — her soft arms clinging to me 
robbed me of a portion of my self-control. I kissed the 
rippling waves of her hair ; she lifted her head and looked up 


at me, her eyes alit with some strange lustre that was not love 
as much as fear, — and the sight of her beauty thus yielded as 
it were to my possession, broke down the barriers of re^-traint 
I had hitherto imposed upon myself. I kissed her on the lips, 
— a long passionate kiss that, to my excited fancy, seemed to 
mingle our very beings into one, — but while I yet held her in 
my arms, she suddenly released herself, and pushed me back. 
Standing apart from me she trembled so violently that I feared 
she would fall, and I took her hand and made her sit down. 
She smiled, — a very wan smile. 

'' What did you feel then?" she asked. 

"When, Sibyl?" 

*' Just now, — when you kissed me?" 

"All the joys of heaven and fires of hell in a moment !" I 

She regarded me with a curious musing frown. 

" Strange ! Do you know what /felt?" 

I shook my head smiling, and pressed my lips on the soft 
small hand I held. 

" Nothing !" she said, with a kind of hopeless gesture. " I 
assure you, absolutely nothing ! I cannot feel. I am one of 
your modern women, — I can only think, — and analyze." 

"Think and analyze as much as you will, my queen," I 
answered playfully — " if you will only think you can be happy 
with me. That is all I desire." 

" Can you be happy with me .?" she asked. " Wait — do not 
answer for a moment, till I tell you what I am. You are 
altogether mistaken in me." She was silent for some minutes, 
and I watched her anxiously. " I was always intended for 
this," she said slowly at last, — "this, to which I have now 
come, — to be the property of a rich man. Many men have 
looked at me with a view to purchase, but they could not pay 
the price my father demanded. Pray do not look so dis- 
tressed ! — what I say is quite true, and quite commonplace, — 
all the women of the upper classes, — the unmarried ones, — 
are for sale now in England as utterly as the Circassian girls 


in a barbarian slave-market. I see you wish to protest, and 
assure me of your devotion, — but there is no need of this, — 
I am quite sure you love me, — as much as any man can love, 
— and I am content. But you do not know me really, — you 
are attracted by my face and form, — and — you admire my 
youth and innocence, which you think I possess. But I am 
not young — I am old in heart and feeling. I was young for a 
little while at Willowsmere, when I lived among flowers and 
birds and all the trustful honest creatures of the woods and 
fields, — but one season in town was sufficient to kill my youth 
in me, — one season of dinners and balls, and — fashionable 
novel-reading. Now you have written a book, and therefore 
you must know something about the duties of authorship, — 
of the serious and even terrible responsibility writers incur 
when they send out to the world books full of pernicious and 
poisonous suggestion to contaminate the minds that have 
hitherto been clean and undiseased. Your book has a noble 
motive ; and for this I admire it in many parts, though to me 
it is not as convincing as it might have been. It is well 
written too ; but I gained the impression while reading it, 
that you were not altogether sincere yourself in the thoughts 
you strove to inculcate, — and that therefore you just missed 
what you should have gained." 

"I am sure you are right," I said, with a wholesome pang 
of humiliation. ''^The book is worthless as literature, — itjs 
only the ' boom' of a season !" 

''At anyrate," she went on, her eyes darkening with the 
intensity of her feeling, '' you have not polluted your pen 
with the vileness common to many of the authors of the day. 
I ask you, do you think a girl can read the books that are 
now freely published, and that her silly society friends tell 
her to read, — 'because it is so dreadfully queer!' — and yet 
remain unspoilt and innocent ? Books that go into the de- 
tails of the lives of outcasts ? — that explain and analyze the 
secret vices of men ? — that advocate almost as a sacred duty 
' free love' and universal polygamy ? — that see no shame in 



introducing into the circles of good wives and pure-minded 
girls, a heroine who boldly seeks out a man, any man, in 
order that she may have a child by him, without the ' deg- 
radation' of marrying him? I have read all those books, — 
and what can you expect of me ? Not innocence, surely ! I 
despise men, — I despise my own sex, — I loathe myself for 
being a woman ! You wonder at my fanaticism for Mavis 
Clare, — it is only because for a time her books give me 
back my self-respect, and make me see humanity in a nobler 
light, — because she restores to me, if only for an hour, a 
kind of glimmering belief in God, so that my mind feels 
refreshed and cleansed. All the same, you must not look 
upon me as an innocent young girl, Geoffrey, — a girl such as 
the great poets idealized and sang of, — I am a contaminated 
creature, trained to perfection in the lax morals and prurient 
literature of my day." 

I looked at her in silence, pained, startled, and with a sense 
of shock, as though something indefinably pure and precious 
had crumbled into dust at my feet. She rose and began pacing 
the room restlessly, moving to and fro with a slow yet fierce 
grace that reminded me against my wish and will of the move- 
ment of some imprisoned and savage beast of prey. 

*'You shall not be deceived in me," she said, pausing a 
moment and eyeing me sombrely. *' If you marry me, you 
must do so with a full realization of the choice you make. 
For with such wealth as yours, you can of course wed any 
woman you fancy. I do not say you could find a girl better 
than I am; I do not think you could in my *set,' because 
we are all alike, — all tarred with the same brush, and filled 
with the same merely sensual and materialistic views of life 
and its responsibilities as the admired heroines of the * so- 
ciety' novels we read. Away in the provinces, among the 
middle classes it is possible you might discover a really good 
girl of the purest blush-rose innocence, — but then you might 
also find her stupid and unentertaining, and you would 
not care for that. My chief recommendation is that I am 


beautiful, — you can see that ; everybody can see that, — and 
I am not so affected as to pretend to be unconscious of the 
fact. There is no sham about my external appearance ; my 
hair is not a wig, — my complexion is natural, — my figure 
is not the result of the corset-maker's art, — my eyebrows and 
eyelashes are undyed. Oh, yes, — you can be sure that the 
beauty of my body is quite genuine ! — but it is not the out- 
ward expression of an equally beautiful soul. And this is 
what I want you to understand. I am passionate, resentful, 
impetuous, — frequently unsympathetic, and inclined to mor- 
bidness and melancholy, and I confess I have imbibed, con- 
sciously or unconsciously, that complete contempt of life and 
disbelief in a God, which is the chief theme of nearly all the 
social teachings of the time." 

She ceased, — and I gazed at her with an odd sense of 
mingled worship and disillusion, even as a barbarian might 
gaze at an idol whom he still loved, but whom he could no 
longer believe in as divine. Yet what she said was in no way 
contrary to my own theories, — how then could I complain ? 
I did not believe in a God; — why should I inconsistently feel 
regret that she shared my unbelief? I had involuntarily 
clung to the old-fashioned idea that religious faith was a 
sacred duty in womanhood ; I was not able to offer any 
reason for this notion, unless it was the romantic fancy of 
having a good woman to pray for one, if one had no time and 
less inclination to pray for one's self. However, it was evi- 
dent Sibyl was ' advanced' enough to do without superstitious 
observances ; she would never pray for me ; — and if we had 
children, she would never teach them to make their first 
tender appeals to Heaven for my sake or hers. I smothered 
a slight sigh, and was about to speak, w^hen she came up to 
me and laid her two hands on my shoulders. '^You look 
unhappy, Geoffrey," she said in gentler accents. *'Be con- 
soled ! — it is not too late for you to change your mind !" 

I met the questioning glance of her eyes, — beautiful, lus- 
trous eyes as clear and pure as light itself. 


'' I shall never change, Sibyl, " I answered. '' I love you ; 
I shall always love you. But I wish you would not analyze 
yourself so pitilessly, — you have such strange ideas " 

" You think them strange !" she said. '* You should not, — 
in these ' new women' days ! I believe that, thanks to news- 
papers, magazines and ' decadent' novels, I am in all respects 
eminently fitted to be a wife!" and she laughed bitterly. 
''There is nothing in the role of marriage that I do not 
know, though I am not yet twenty. I have been prepared 
for a long time to be sold to the highest bidder, and what 
few silly notions I had about love, — the love of the poets 
and idealists,— when I was a dreamy child at Willowsmere, 
are all dispersed and ended. Ideal love is dead, — and worse 
than dead, being out of fashion. Carefully instructed as I 
have been in the worthlessness of everything but money, you 
can scarcely be surprised at my speaking of myself as an ob- 
ject of sale. Marriage for me /s sl sale, as far as my father 
is concerned, — for you know well enough that however much 
you loved me, or I loved you, he would never allow me to 
marry you if you were not rich, and richer than most men. I 
want you to feel that I fully recognise the nature of the bargain 
struck; and I ask you not to expect a girl's fresh, confiding 
love from a woman as warped in heart and mind as I am !" 

"Sibyl," I said earnestly, "you wrong yourself; I am 
sure you wrong yourself ! You are one of those who can be 
i;i the world yet not of it ; your mind is too open and pure 
to be sullied, even by contact with evil things. I will be- 
lieve nothing you say against your own sweet and noble char- 
acter, — and, Sibyl, let me again ask you not to distress me by 
this constant harping on the subject of my wealth, or I shall 
be inclined to look upon it as a curse. I should love you as 
much if I w^ere poor ' ' 

"Oh, you might love me," she interrupted me with a 
strange smile, " but you would not dare to say so !" 

1 was silent. Suddenly she laughed, and linked her arms 
caressingly round my neck. 


"There, Geoffrey!" she said, "I have finished my dis- 
course, — my bit of Ibsenism or whatever other ism affects 
me, — and we need not be miserable about it. I have said 
what was in my mind ; I have told you tlie truth, that in heart 
I am neither young nor innocent. But I am no worse than 
all my * set,' so perhaps you had better make the best of me. 
I please your fancy, do I not?" 

" My love for you cannot be so lightly expressed, Sibyl !" 
I answered, in rather a pained tone. 

''Never mind, — it is my humour so to express it," she 
went on. "I please your fancy, and you wish to marry me. 
Well now, all I ask is, go to my father and buy me at once ! 
Conclude the bargain ! And when you have bought me, — 
don't look so tragic!" and she laughed again — '' and when 
you have paid the clergyman, and paid the bridesmaids 
(with monogram lockets or brooches), and paid the guests 
(with wedding-cake and champagne), and cleared up all scores 
with everybody, even to the last man who shuts the door of 
the nuptial brougham, — will you take me away, — far away 
from this place — this house, where my mother's face haunts 
me like a ghost in the darkness ; where I am tortured by 
terrors night and day, — where I hear such strange sounds, 
and dream of such ghastly things — " here her voice suddenly 
broke, and she hid her face against my breast. "Oh, yes, 
Geoffrey, take me away as quickly as possible ! Let us 
never live in hateful London, but at Willowsmere ; I may 
find some of the old joys there, — and some of the happy 
bygone days." 

Touched by the appealing pathos of her accents, I pressed 
her to my heart, feeling that she was scarcely accountable for 
the strange things she said in her evidently overwrought and 
excitable condition. 

" It shall be as you wish, my darling," I said. '* The sooner 
I have you all to myself the better. This is the end of 
March, — will you be ready to marry me in June !" 

"Yes," she answered, still hiding her face. 


*' And now, Sibyl," I went on, ''remember — there must be 
no more talk of money and bargaining. Tell me what you 
have not yet told me, — that you love me, — and would love me 
even if I were poor." 

She looked up, straightly and unflinchingly, full into \ny 

"I cannot tell you that," she said. *'I have told you I 
do not believe in love ; and if you were poor I certainly 
should not marry you. It would be no use !" 

''You are frank, Sibyl !" 

"It is best to be frank, is it not?" and she drew a flower 
from the knot at her bosom, and began fastening it in my 
coat. " Geoffrey, what is the good of pretence? You would 
hate to be poor, and so should I. I do not understand the 
verb ' to love,' — now and then when I read a book by Mavis 
Clare, I believe love may exist, but when I close the book 
my belief is shut up with it. So do not ask for what is not in 
me. I am willing — even glad to marry you ; that is all you 
must expect." 

" All !" I exclaimed, with a sudden mingling of love and 
wrath in my blood, as I closed my arms about her, and kissed 
her passionately. "All ! — you impassive ice-flower, it is not 
all ! — you shall melt to my touch and learn what love is, — 
do not think you can escape its influence, you dear, foolish, 
beautiful child ! Your passions are asleep, — they must wake ! ' ' 

" For you?" she queried, resting her head back against my 
shoulder, and gazing up at me with a dreamy radiance in her 
lovely eyes. 


She laughed. 

" ' Oh, bid me love, and I will love !' " she hummed softly 
under her breath. 

" You will, you must, you shall !" I said ardently. " I will 
be your master in the art of loving !" 

" It is a difficult art !" she said. "I am afraid it will take 
a life-time to complete my training, even with my ' master.' " 


And a smile still lingered in her eyes, giving them a witch- 
like glamour, when I kissed her again and bade her good-night. 

*' You will tell Prince Rimanez the news ?" she said. 

**If you wish it." 

" Of course I wish it. Tell him at once. I should like 
him to know." 

I went down the stairs, — she leaned over the balustrade 
looking after me. 

" Good-night, Geoffrey !" she called softly. 

"Good-night, Sibyl!" 

" Be sure you tell Prince Rimanez !" 

Her white figure disappeared ; and I walked out of the 
house in a chaotic state of mind, divided between pride, 
ecstasy and pain, — the engaged husband of an earl's daughter, 
— the lover of a woman who had declared herself incapable 
of love, and destitute of faith. 


Looking back through the space of only three years to this 
particular period of my life, I can remember distinctly the 
singular expression of Lucio's face when I told him that Sibyl 
Elton had accepted me. His sudden smile gave a light to his 
eyes that I had never seen in them before, — a brilliant yet 
sinister glow, strangely suggestive of some inwardly suppressed 
wrath and scorn. While I spoke he was, to my vexation, 
toying with that uncanny favourite of his, the 'mummy-insect,' 
— and it annoyed me beyond measure to see the repulsive per- 
tinacity with which the glittering bat-like creature clung to his 

''Women are all alike," he said with a hard laugh, when 
he had heard my news. "Few of them have moral force 
enough to resist that temptation of a rich marriage." 

I was irritated at this. 


" It is scarcely fair of you to judge everything by the money- 
standard," I said, — then, after a little pause, 1 added what in 
my own heart I knew to be a lie, — "She — Sibyl — loves me 
for myself alone." 

His glance flashed over me like lightning. 

*' Oh ! — sets the wind in that quarter. Why, then, my dear 
Geoffrey, I congratulate you more heartily than ever. To 
conquer the affections of one of the proudest girls in England, 
and win her love so completely as to be sure she would marry 
you even if you had not a sou to bless yourself with — this is 
a victory indeed ! — and one of which you may well be proud. 
Again and yet again I congratulate you !" 

Tossing the horrible thing he called his ' sprite' off to fly 
on one of its slow humming circuits round the room, he shook 
my hand fervently, still smiling, — and I, — feeling instinctively 
that he was as fully aware of the truth as I was, namely, that 
had I been a poor author with nothing but what I could earn 
by my brains, the Lady Sibyl Elton would never have looked 
at me, much less agreed to marry me, — kept silence lest I 
should openly betray the reality of my position. 

''You see," he went on, with a cheerful relentlessness, 
"I was not aware that any old-world romance graced the 
disposition of one so apparently impassive as your beautiful 
fiancee. To love for love's sake only, is becoming really an 
obsolete virtue. I thought Lady Sibyl was an essentially 
modern woman, conscious of her position, and the necessity 
there was for holding that position proudly before the world 
at all costs, — and that the pretty pastoral sentiments of poet- 
ical Phyllises and Amandas had no place in her nature. I 
was wrong, it seems ; and for once I have been mistaken in 
the fair sex !" Here he stretched out his hand to the ' sprite,' 
that now came winging its way back, and settled at once on 
its usual resting-place. "My friend, I assure you, if you 
have won a true woman's true love, you have a far greater 
fortune than your millions, — a treasure that none can afford 
to despise." 


His voice softened, — his eyes grew dreamy and less scorn- 
ful, — and I looked at him in some astonishment. 

" Why Liicio, I thought you hated women !" 

'' So I do !" he replied quickly. '' But do not forget why 
I hate them ! It is because they have all the world's possi- 
bilities of good in their hands, and the majority of them 
deliberately turn these possibilities to evil. Men are in- 
fluenced entirely by women, though few of them will own 
it, — through women they are lifted to heaven or driven to 
hell. The latter is the favourite course, and the one almost 
universally adopted." 

His brow darkened, and the lines round his proud mouth 
grew hard and stern. I watched him for a moment, — then 
with sudden irrelevancy I said — 

"Put that abominable 'sprite' of yours away, will you? I 
hate to see you with it !" 

"What, my poor Egyptian princess!" he exclaimed with 
a laugh. " Why so cruel to her, Geoffrey? If you had lived 
in her day, you might have been one of her lovers ! She was 
no doubt a charming person, — I find her charming still ! 
However, to oblige you — " and here, placing the insect in 
its crystal receptacle, he carried it away to the other end of 
the room. Then, returning towards me slowly, he said, 
" Who knows what the ' sprite' suffered as a woman, Geoffrey ! 
Perhaps she made a rich marriage, and repented it ! At any- 
rate I am sure she is much happier in her present condition." 

"I have no sympathy with such a ghastly fancy," I said 
abruptly. " I only know that she or // is a perfectly loathsome 
object to me." 

"Well, — some 'transmigrated' souls ai'e loathsome objects 
to look at," he declared imperturbably. "When they are 
deprived of their respectable tw^o-legged fleshly covering, it 
is extraordinary what a change the inexorable law of Nature 
makes in them !" 

"What nonsense you talk, Lucio!" I said impatiently. 
" How can you know anything about it !" 



A sudden shadow passed over his face, giving it a strange 
pallor and impenetrability. 

"Have you forgotten," he said in deliberately measured 
accents, " that your friend John Carrington, when he wrote 
that letter of introduction I brought from him to you, told 
you in it, that in all matters scientific I was an 'absolute 
master' ? In these ' matters scientific' you have not tested 
my skill, — yet you ask — ' how can I know?' I answer that 
I do know — many things of which you are ignorant. Do 
not presume too much on your own intellectual capability, 
my friend, — lest I prove it naught ! — lest I demonstrate to 
you, beyond all possibility of consoling doubt, that the shreds 
and strippings of that change you call death, are only so many 
embryos of new life which you must live, whether you will or 

Somewhat abashed by his words and still more by his man- 
ner, I said — 

'' Pardon me ! — I spoke in haste of course, — but you know 
my theories — " 

'*Most thoroughly!" and he laughed, with an immediate 
resumption of his old manner. " ' Everyman his own theory' 
is the fashionable motto of the hour. Each little biped tells 
you that he has his 'own idea' of God, and equally 'his 
own' idea of the Devil. It is very droll ! But let us return 
to the theme of love. I feel I have not congratulated you 
half enough, — for surely Fortune favours you singularly. 
Out of the teeming mass of vain and frivolous femininity, you 
have secured a unique example of beauty, truth and purity, — 
a woman, who apart from all self-interest and worldly advan- 
tage, weds you, with five millions, for yourself alone ! The 
prettiest poem in the world could be made out of such an 
exquisitely innocent maiden type ! You are one of the 
luckiest men alive ; in fact, you have nothing more to wish 

I did not contradict him, though in my own mind I felt 
that the circumstances of my engagement left much to be 


desired. I, who scoffed at religion, wished it had formed 
part of the character of my future wife. I, who sneered at 
sentiment, craved for some expression of it in the woman 
whose beauty attracted my desires. However, I determinedly 
smothered all the premonitions of my own conscience, and 
accepted what each day of my idle and useless life brought 
me without considering future consequences. 

The papers soon had the news that ' ' a marriage has been 
arranged and will shortly take place between Sibyl, only 
daughter of the Earl of Elton, and Geoffrey Tempest, the 
famous millionaire." Not 'famous author,' mark you! — 
though I was still being loudly 'boomed.' Morgeson, my 
publisher, could offer me no consolation as to my chances of 
winning and keeping a steady future fame. The Tenth Edition 
of my book was announced, but we had not actually disposed 
of more than two thousand copies, including a One-Volume 
issue which had been hastily thrust on the market. And the 
work I had so mercilessly and maliciously slated, — "Differ- 
ences" by Mavis Clare, — was in its thirtieth thousand ! I 
commented on this with some anger to Morgeson, who was 
virtuously aggrieved at my complaint. 

" Dear me, Mr Tempest, you are not the only writer who 
has been ' boomed' by the press and who, nevertheless, does 
not sell, ' ' he exclaimed. ' ' No one can account for the caprices 
of the public ; they are entirely beyond the most cautious pub- 
lisher's control or calculation. Miss Clare is a sore subject to 
many authors besides yourself, — she always ' takes' and no one 
can help it. I sympathize with you in the matter heartily, but 
I am not to blame. At anyrate the reviewers are all with 
you, — their praise has been almost unanimous. Now Mavis 
Clare's ' Differences,' though to my thinking a very brilliant 
and powerful book, has been literally cut to pieces whenever 
it has been noticed at all, — and yet the public go for her and 
don't go for you. It isn't my fault. You see people have 
got Compulsory Education now, and I'm afraid they begin to 
mistrust criticism, preferring to form their own independent 


opinions ; if this is so, of course it will be a terrible thing, 
because the most carefully organized clique in the world will 
be powerless. Everything has been done for you that can be 
done, Mr Tempest, — I am sure I regret as much as yourself 
that the result has not been all you expected or desired. Many 
authors would not care so much for the public approval ; the 
applause of cultured journalism such as you have obtained, 
would be more than sufficient for them." 

I laughed bitterly. * The applause of cultured journalism !' 
I thought I knew something of the way in which such applause 
was won. Almost I began to hate m.y millions, — golden trash 
that could only secure me the insincere flattery of fair-weather 
friends, — and that could not give me fame, — such fame as has 
sometimes been grasped in a moment by a starving and neg- 
lected genius, who in the very arms of death, succeeds in 
mastering the world. One day in a fit of disappointment and 
petulance I said to Lucio — 

*'You have not kept all your promises, my friend I — you 
told me you could give me fame !" 

He looked at me curiously. 

" Did I? Well, — and are you not famous ?'* 

" No. I am merely notorious," I retorted. 

He smiled. 

** The word fame, my good Geoffrey, traced to its origin, 
means a ' breath' — the breath of popular adulation. You have 
that — for your wealth. " 

* ' But not for my work ! ' ' 

" You have the praise of the reviewers !" 

'' What is that worth !" 

''Everything!" he answered smiling — '* in the reviewers' 
own opinion !" 

I was silent. 

''You speak of work," he went on. " Now the nature of 
work I cannot exactly express, because it is a divine thing and 
is judged by a divine standard. One must consider in all work 
two things ; first, the object for which it is undertaken, and 


secondly the way in which it is performed. All work should 
have a high and unselfish intent, — without this, it perishes and 
is not considered work at all, — not at least by the eternal judges 
invisible. If it is work, truly and nobly done in every sense 
of the word, it carries with it its own reward, and the laurels 
descend from heaven, shaped ready for wearing, — no earthly 
power can bestow them. I cannot give you that fame, — but I 
have secured you a very fair imitation of it." 

I was obliged to acquiesce, though more or less morosely, 
— whereat I saw that he was somewhat amused. Unwilling 
to incur his contempt, I said no more concerning the subject 
that was the sorest to my heart, and wore out many sleepless 
hours at night in trying to write a new book, — something novel 
and daring, such as should force the public to credit me with 
a little loftier status than that obtained by the possession of a 
huge banking account. But the creative faculty seemed dead 
in me, — I was crushed by a sense of impotence and failure ; 
vague ideas were in my brain that would not lend themselves 
to expression in words, — and such a diseased love of hyper- 
criticism controlled me, that after a miserably nervous analysis 
of every page I wrote, I tore it up as soon as it was written, 
thus reducing myself to a state of mind that was almost 

Early in April I made my first visit to Willowsmere, having 
received information from the head of the firm of decorators 
and furnishers employed there, that their work was close on 
completion, and that they would be glad of a visit of inspec- 
tion from me. Lucio and I went down together for the day, 
and as the train rushed through a green and smiling landscape, 
bearing us away from the smoke, dirt and noise of the restless 
modern Babylon, I was conscious of a gradually deepening 
peace and pleasure. The first sight of the place I had reck- 
lessly purchased without so much as looking at it, filled me 
with delight and admiration. It was a beautiful old house, 
ideally English, and suggestive of home-happiness. Ivy and 
jessamine clung to its red walls and picturesque gables, — 
o 18* 


through the long vista of the exquisitely wooded grounds, the 
silver gleam of the Avon river could be discerned, twisting in 
and out like a ribbon tied in true love-knots, — the trees and 
shrubs were sprouting forth in all their fresh spring beauty, — 
the aspect of the country was indescribably bright and sooth- 
ing, and I began to feel as if a burden had been suddenly lifted 
from my life, leaving me free to breathe and enjoy my liberty. 
I strolled from room to room of my future abode, admiring 
the taste and skill with which the whole place had been fitted 
and furnished, down to the smallest detail of elegance, comfort 
and convenience. Here my Sibyl was born, I thought, with a 
lover-like tenderness, — here she would dwell again as my wife, 
amid the lovely and beloved surroundings of her childhood, — 
and we should be happy — yes, we should be happy, despite 
all the dull and heartless social doctrines of the modern world. 
In the spacious and beautiful drawing-room I stopped to look 
out from the windows on the entrancing view of lawn and 
woodland that stretched before me, — and as I looked, a warm 
sense of gratitude and affection filled me for the friend to 
whose good offices I owed this fair domain. Turning, I 
grasped him by the hand. 

''It is all your doing, Lucio !" I said. " I feel I can never 
thank you enough ! Without you I should perhaps never 
have met Sibyl, — I might never have heard of her, or of 
Willowsmere ; and I never could have been as happy as I am 

" Oh, you are happy then?" he queried with a little smile. 
'' I fancied you were not !" 

*' Well — I have not been as happy as I expected to be," I 
confessed. ''Something in my sudden accession to wealth 
seems to have dragged me down rather than lifted me up, — 
it is strange " 

"It is not strange at all," he interrupted; "on the con- 
trary it is very natural. As a rule the most miserable people 
in the world are the rich." 

"Are you miserable, for instance?" I asked, smiling. 


His eyes rested on me with a dark and dreary pathos. 

'S\re you too blind to see that I am?" he answered, his 
accents vibrating with intense melancholy. *' Can you think 
I am happy ? Does the smile I wear — the disguising smile 
men put on as a mask to hide their secret agonies from the 
pitiless gaze of unsympathetic fellow-creatures — persuade you 
that I am free from care ? As for my wealth, I have never 
told you the extent of it ; if I did, it might indeed amaze 
you, though I believe it would not now arouse your envy, 
considering that your trifling five millions have not been 
without effect in depressing your mind. But I, — I could 
buy up kingdoms, and be none the poorer, — I could throne 
and unthrone kings, and be none the wiser, — I could crush 
whole countries under the iron heel of financial specula- 
tion, — I could possess the world, — and yet estimate it at 
no higher value than I do now, — the value of a grain of 
dust circling through infinity, or a soap-bubble blown on the 
wind ! ' ' 

His brows knitted, — his face expressed pride, scorn and 

''There is some mystery about you, Lucio," I said, — 
"some grief or loss that your wealth cannot repair — and that 
makes you the strange being you are. One day perhaps you 
will confide in me ..." 

He laughed loudly, — almost fiercely ; — and clapped me 
heavily on the shoulder — 

*' I will !" he said. '' I will tell you my history ! And you, 
excellent agnostic as you are, shall ' minister to a mind dis- 
eased,' and 'pluck out the memory of a rooted sorrow!' 
What a power of expression there was in Shakespeare, the 
uncrowned but actual King of England ! Not the ' rooted 
sorrow' alone was to be ' plucked out,' but the very ' memory' 
of it. The apparently simple line holds complex wisdom; 
no doubt the poet knew, or instinctively guessed the most 
terrible fact in all the Universe ..." 

"And what is that?" 


*'The eternal consciousness of Memory," he replied. 
^' God can not forget, — and, in consequence of this, His 
creatures may not ! ' ' 

I forbore to reply, but I suppose my face betrayed my 
thoughts, for the cynical smile I knew so well played round 
his mouth as he looked at me. 

" I go beyond your patience, do I not !" he said, laughing 
again. ''When I mention God, — who is declared by certain 
scientists to be non-existent except as a blind, indifferent 
natural Force or Atom-producer, — you are bored ! I can 
see that at a glance. Pray forgive me ! Let us resume our 
tour of inspection through this charming abode. You will 
be very difficult to satisfy if you are not a very emperor of 
contentment here ; — with a beautiful wife and plenty of cash, 
you can well afford to give ' fame' the go-by." 

*'I may win it yet!" I said hopefully. "In this place, I 
feel I could write something worthy of being written." 

" Good ! The 'divine flutterings' of winged thoughts are 
in your brain ! Apollo grant them strength to fly ! And 
now let us have luncheon, — afterwards we shall have time 
to take a stroll." 

In the dining-room I found an elegant repast prepared 
which rather surprised me, as I had given no orders, having 
indeed forgotten to do so. Lucio, however, had, it appeared, 
not forgotten, and an advance telegram from him had placed 
certain caterers at Leamington on their mettle, with the result 
that we sat down to a feast as delicate and luxurious as any 
two epicures could desire. 

" Now I want you to do me a favour, Cxcoffrey," said Lucio, 
during our luncheon. " You will scarcely need to reside here 
till after your marriage ; you have too many engagements in 
town. You spoke of entertaining a big house-party down 
here, — I wouldn't do that if I were you, — it isn't worth while. 
You would have to get in a staff of servants, and leave them 
all afterwards to their own devices while you are on your 
honeymoon. This is what I propose, — give a grand fete here 



in honour of your betrothal to Lady Sibyl, in May, and let 
me be the master of the revels !" 

I was in the mood to agree to anything, — moreover the 
idea seemed an excellent one. I said so and Rimanez went 
on quickly — 

"You understand, of course, that if I undertake to do a 
thing I always do it thoroughly, and brook no interference 
with my plans. Now as your marriage will be the signal for 
our parting, — at any rate for a time,— I should like to show 
my appreciation of your friendship, by organizing a brilliant 
affair of the kind I suggest, — and if you will leave it all to me 
I guarantee you shall hold such a fete as has never been seen 
or known in England. And it will be a personal satisfaction 
to me if you consent to my proposal." 

''My dear fellow, " I answered, *'of course I consent — 
willingly ! I give you ca7'te blanche, — do as you like ; do all 
you like ! It is most friendly and kind of you ! But when 
are we to make this sensation ?' ' 

*' You are to be married in June?" he asked. 

''Yes, — in the second week of the month." 

"Very well. The fete shall be held on the twenty-second 
of May, — that will give society time to recover from the effect 
of one burst of splendour in order to be ready for another, — 
namely, the wedding. Now we need not talk of this any more 
— it is settled, — the rest devolves on me. We've got three or 
four hours to spare before we take the train back to town, — 
suppose we take a saunter through the grounds?" 

I assented to this, and accompanied him readily, feeling in 
high spirits and good humour. Willowsmere and its peaceful 
loveliness seemed to cleanse my mind of all corroding in- 
fluences ; — the blessed silence of the woods and hills, after 
the rush and roar of town life, soothed and cheered me, and I 
walked beside my companion with a light heart and smiling 
face, — happy, and filled with a dim religious faith in the blue 
sky, if not in the God beyond it. We sauntered through the 
fair gardens which were now mine, and then out through the 


park into a lovely little lane, — a true Warwickshire lane, 
where the celandines were strewing the grass with their bright 
gold coinage, and the star-wort thrust up fairy bouquets of 
white bloom between buttercups and clover, and where the 
hawthorn buds were beginning to show themselves like minute 
snow-pellets among the glossy young green. A thrush warbled 
melodiously, — a lark rose from almost our very feet and flung 
itself joyously into the sky with a wild outburst of song, — a 
robin hopped through a little hole in the hedge to look at us 
in blithe inquisitiveness as we passed. All at once Lucio 
stopped and laid his hand on my shoulder, — his eyes had the 
beautiful melancholy of a far-off longing which I could neither 
understand nor define. 

*' Listen, Geoffrey !" he said. '' Listen to the silence of the 
earth while the lark sings ! Have you ever observed the 
receptive attitude in which Nature seems to wait for sounds 
divine !" 

I did not answer, — the silence around us was indeed im- 
pressive; — the warbling of the thrush had ceased, and only 
the lark's clear voice pealing over-head echoed sweetly 
through the stillness of the lane. 

*' In the clerical Heaven," went on Lucio dreamily, ** there 
are no birds. There are only conceited human souls bray- 
ing forth 'Alleluia'! No flowers are included, — no trees; 
only ' golden streets. ' What a poor and barbarous concep- 
tion ! As if a World inhabited by Deity would not contain 
the wonders, graces and beauties of all worlds ! Even this 
little planet is more naturally beautiful than the clerical 
Heaven, — that is, it is beautiful wherever Man is not. I 
protest — I have always protested — against the creation of 

I laughed. 

'' You protest against your own existence then !" I said. 

His eyes darkened slowly to a sombre brooding blackness. 

*' When the sea roars and flings itself in anger on the shore, 
it craves its prey — Mankind ! It seeks to wash the fair earth 


clean of the puny insect that troubles the planet's peace ! It 
drowns the noxious creature when it can, with the aid of its 
sympathizing comrade the wind ! When the thunder crashes 
down a second after the lightning, does it not seem to you 
that the very clouds combine in the holy war? — the war 
against God's one mistake ; — the making of humanity, — the 
effort to sweep it out of the universe as one erases a weak 
expression in an otherwise perfect Poem ! You and I, for 
example, are the only discords in to-day's woodland harmony. 
We are not particularly grateful for life, — we certainly are not 
content wilh it, — we have not the innocence of a bird or a 
flower. We have more knowledge, you will say, — but how can 
we be sure of that? Our wisdom came from the devil in the 
first place, according to the legend of the tree of knowledge, 
— the fruit of which taught both good and evil, but which still 
apparently persuades man to evil rather than good, and leads 
him on to a considerable amount of arrogance besides, for he 
has an idea he will be immortal as a god in the hereafter, — 
ye majestic Heavens ! — what an inadequately stupendous fate 
for a grain of worthless dust, — a dwarfish atom such as he !" 

*' Well, /have no ideas of immortality," I said. "I have 
told you that often. This life is enough for me, — I want and 
expect no other." 

"Aye, but if there were another!" answered Lucio, fixing 
me with a steady look. ''And — if you were not asked your 
opinion about it — but simply plunged headlong into a state 
of terrible consciousness of which you would rather not 
be " 

''Oh come," I said impatiently, *' do not let us theorize! 
I am happy to-day ! — my heart is as light as that of the bird 
singing m the sky ; I am in the very best of humours, and 
could not say an unkind word to my worst enemy." 

He smiled. 

*'Is that your humour?" and he took me by the arm. 
" Then there could be no better opportunity for showing you 
this pretty little corner of the world, ' ' — and walking on a few 


yards, he dexterously turned me down a narrow path, leading 
from the lane, and brought me face to face with a lovely old 
cottage, almost buried in the green of the young spring ver- 
dure, and surrounded by an open fence overgrown with haw- 
thorn and sweet-brier. "Keep firm hold over your temper 
Geoffrey, — and maintain the benignant tranquillity of your 
mind ! — here dwells the woman whose name and fame you 
hate,— Mavis Clare!" 


The blood rushed to my face, and I stopped abruptly. 

*' Let us go back," I said. 


"Because I do not know Miss Clare and do not want to 
know her. Literary women are my abhorrence, — they are 
always more or less unsexed." 

"You are thinking of the 'New' women I suppose, — but 
you flatter them, — they never had any sex to lose. The self- 
degrading creatures who delineate their fictional heroines as 
wallowing in unchastity, and who write freely on subjects 
which men would hesitate to name, are unnatural hybrids of 
no-sex. Mavis Clare is not one of them, — she is an ^ old- 
fa.shioned' young woman. Mademoiselle Derino, the dancer, 
is ' unsexed,' but you did not object to her on that score ; on 
the contrary I believe you have shown your appreciation of her 
talents by spending a considerable amount of cash upon her." 

" That's not a fair comparison," I answered hotly. " Mad- 
emoiselle Derino amused me for a time." 

" And was not your rival in art !" said Lucio with a little 
malicious smile. " I see ! Still, as far as the question of being 
* unsexed' goes, I personally consider that a woman who shows 
the power of her intellect is more to be respected than the 
woman who shows the power of her legs. But men always 


prefer the legs, — just as they prefer the devil to the Deity. All 
the same, I think, as we have time to spare, we may as well see 
this genius." 

'' Genius !" I echoed contemptuously. 

** Feminine twaddler, then !" he suggested, laughing. " Let 
us see this feminine twaddler. She will no doubt prove as 
amusing as Mademoiselle Derino in her way. I shall ring the 
bell and ask if she is at home." 

He advanced towards the creeper-covered porch, — but I 
stood back, mortified and sullen, determined not to accompany 
him inside the house if he were admitted. Suddenly a blithe 
peal of musical laughter sounded through the air, and a clear 
voice exclaimed — 

''Oh, Tricksy^ You wicked boy! Take it back directly, 
and apologize I" 

Lucio peered through the fence, and then beckoned to me 

" There she is !" he whispered. " There is the dyspeptic, 
sour, savage old blue-stocking, — there, on the lawn, — by 
Heaven ! — she's enough to strike terror into the heart of any 
man — and millionaire ! ' ' 

I looked where he pointed, and saw nothing but a fair- 
haired girl in a white gown, sitting in a low basket-chair, with 
a tiny toy terrier on her lap. The terrier was jealously guard- 
ing a large square dog-biscuit nearly as big as himself, and at 
a little distance off sat a magnificent rough-coated St Bernard, 
wagging his feathery tail to and fro, with every sign of good- 
humour and enjoyment. The position was evident at a glance, 
— the small dog had taken his huge companion's biscuit from 
him and had conveyed it to his mistress, — a canine joke which 
seemed to be appreciated and understood by all the parties 
concerned. But as I watched the little group, I did not be- 
lieve that the woman I saw was Mavis Clare. That small head 
was surely never made for the wearing of deathless laurels, but 
rather for a garland of roses (sweet and perishable) twined by 
a lover's hand. No such slight feminine creature as the one 
K 19 


I now looked upon could ever be capable of the intellectual 
grasp and power of ' Differences,' the book I secretly admired 
and wondered at, but which I had anonymously striven to 
' quash' in its successful career. The writer of such a work, I 
imagined, must needs be of a more or less strong physique, 
with pronounced features and an impressive personality. This 
butterfly thing, playing with her dog, was no type of a ' blue- 
stocking,' and I said as much to Lucio. 

"That cannot be Miss Clare," I said. "More likely a 
visitor, — or perhaps the companion-secretary. The novelist 
must be very different in appearance to that frivolous young 
person in white, whose dress is distinctly Parisian, and who 
seems to have nothing whatever to do but amuse herself." 

"Tricksy!" said the clear voice again, "take back the 
biscuit and apologize !" 

The tiny terrier looked round with an innocently abstracted 
air, as if in the earnestness of his own thoughts he had not 
quite caught the meaning of the sentence. 

" Tricksy !" and the voice became more imperative, " take 
it back and apologize ! ' ' 

With a comical expression of resignation to circumstances, 
* Tricksy' seized the large biscuit, and holding it in his teeth 
with gingerly care, jumped from his mistress's knee, and trot- 
ting briskly up to the St Bernard who was still wagging his tail 
and smiling as visibly as dogs often can smile, restored his 
stolen goods with three short yapping barks, as much as to say 
"There! take it!" The St Bernard rose in all his majestic 
bulk and sniffed at it, — then sniffed his small friend, apparently 
in dignified doubt as to which was terrier and which was bis- 
cuit, — then lying down again he gave himself up to the pleasure 
of munching his meal, the while ' Tricksy' with wild barks 
of delight performed a sort of mad war-dance round and round 
him by way of entertainment. This piece of dog-comedy 
was still going on, when Lucio turned away from his point of 
observation at the fence, and going up to the gate, rang the 
bell. A neat maid-servant answered the summons. 


*' Is Miss Clare at home ?" he asked. 

'* Yes, sir. But I am not sure whether she will receive 
you," the maid replied, ''unless you have an appoint- 
ment !" 

*'We have no appointment," said Lucio, — ''but if you 
will take these cards, — " here he turned to me, — " Geoffrey, 
give me one of yours !" I complied, somewhat reluctantly. 
" If you will take these cards," he resumed, " to Miss Clare, 
it is just possible she may be kind enough to see us. If not, 
it will be our loss." 

He spoke so gently, and with such an ingratiating manner, 
that I could see the servant was at once prepossessed in his 

" Step in, sir, if you please," she said smiling, and open- 
ing the gate. He obeyed with alacrity, and I, who a moment 
ago had resolved not to enter the place, found myself passively 
following him under an archway of sprouting young leaves and 
early budding jessamine into * Lily Cottage' — which was to 
prove one day, though I knew it not then, the only haven of 
peace and security I should ever crave for, — and, craving, be 
unable to win ! 

The house was much larger than it looked from the outside ; 
the entrance-hall was square and lofty and panelled with fine 
old carved oak, and the drawing-room into which we were 
shown was one of the most picturesque and beautiful apart- 
ments I had ever seen. There were flowers everywhere, — 
books, — rare bits of china, — elegant trifles that only a woman 
of perfect taste would have the sense to select and appreciate, 
— on one or two of the side-tables and on the grand piano were 
autograph-portraits of many of the greatest celebrities in 
Europe. Lucio strolled about the room, making soft com- 

*'Here is the Autocrat of all the Russias," he said, pausing 
before a fine portrait of the Tsar. "Signed by the Imperial 
hand too. Now what has the ' feminine twaddler' done to 
deserve that honour I wonder ! Here, in strange contrast, 


is the wild-haired Paderewski, — and beside him the perennial 
Patti, — there is Her Majesty of Italy, and here we have 
H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, — all autographed likenesses. 
Upon my word. Miss Clare seems to attract a great many 
notabilities around her without the aid of hard cash. I 
wonder how she does it, Geoffrey ?' ' and his eyes sparkled 
half maliciously. *' Can it be a case of genius after all ? Look 
at those lilies !" and he pointed to a mass of white bloom in 
one of the windows. "Are they not far more beautiful crea- 
tures than men and women ? Dumb — yet eloquent of purity ! 
— no wonder the painters choose them as the only flowers 
suitable for the adornment of angels." 

As he spoke the door opened, and the girl we had seen on 
the lawn entered, carrying her toy terrier on one arm. • Was 
she Mavis Clare ? or some one sent to say that the novelist 
could not receive us ? I wondered silently, looking at her in 
surprise and something of confusion, — Lucio advanced with 
an odd mingling of humility and appeal in his manner which 
was new to me. 

''We must apologize for our intrusion, Miss Clare," he 
said. *' But happening to pass your house, we could not resist 

making an attempt to see you. My name is Rimanez," — 

he hesitated oddly for a second, then went on — ''and this is 
my friend Mr Geoffrey Tempest, the author — — " The girl 
raised her eyes to mine with a little smile and courteous bend 
of her head. " He has, as I daresay you know, become the 
owner of Willowsmere Court. You will be neighbours and 
I hope friends. In any case, if we have committed a breach 
of etiquette in venturing to call upon you without previous 
introduction, you must try and forgive us ! It is difficult — 
to me impossible — to pass the dwelling of a celebrity without 
offering homage to the presiding genius within." 

Mavis Clare — for it was Mavis Clare — seemed not to have 
heard the intended compliment. 

"You are very welcome," she said simply, advancing with 
a pretty grace, and extending her hand to each of us in turn. 


** I am quite accustomed to visits from strangers. But I 
already know Mr Tempest very well by reputation. Won't 
you sit down ?' ' 

She motioned us to chairs in the lily-decked window-corner, 
and rang the bell. Her maid appeared. 

''Tea, Janet." 

This order given, she seated herself near us, still holding 
her little dog curled up against her like a small ball of silk. 
1 tried to converse, but could find nothing suitable to say, — 
the sight of her filled me with too great a sense of self- 
reproach and shame. She was such a quiet graceful creature, 
so slight and dainty, so perfectly unaffected and simple in 
manner, that as I thought of the slaughtering article I had 
written against her work I felt like a low brute who had been 
stoning a child. And yet, — after all it was her genius I hated, 
— the force and passion of that mystic quality which wherever 
it appears, compels the world's attention, — this was the gift 
she had that I lacked and coveted. Moved by the most 
conflicting sensations, I gazed abstractedly out on the shady 
old garden, — I heard Lucio conversing on trifling matters of 
society and literature generally, and every now and then her 
bright laugh rang out like a little peal of bells. Soon I felt, 
rather than saw, that she was looking steadily at me, and 
turning, I met her eyes, — deep dense blue eyes, candidly grave 
and clear. 

"Is this your first visit to Willowsmere Court?" she asked. 

'' Yes," I answered, making an effort to appear more at my 
ease. ''Thought the place, — on the recommendation of my 
friend the prince here,^-without looking at it." 

" So I heard," she said, still observing me curiously. " And 
you are satisfied with it ?' ' 

" More than satisfied — I am delighted. It exceeds all my 
best expectations." 

" Mr Tempest is going to marry the daughter of the former 
owner of Willowsmere," put in Lucio. "No doubt you 
have seen it announced in the papers?" 



'' Yes," she responded with a slight smile, " I have seen it, 
and I think Mr Tempest is much to be congratulated. Lady 
Sibyl is very lovely, — 1 remember her as a beautiful child when 
I was a child myself. I never spoke to her, but I often saw 
her. She must be charmed at the prospect of returning as a 
bride to the old home she loved so well." 

Here the servant entered with the tea, and Miss Clare, 
putting down her tiny dog, went to the table to dispense it. 
1 watched her move across the room with a sense of vague 
wonder and reluctant admiration, — she rather resembled a 
picture by Greuze, in her soft white gown with a pale rose 
nestled amid the old Flemish lace at her throat, — and as she 
turned her head towards us, the sunlight caught her fair hair 
and turned it to the similitude of a golden halo circling her 
brows. She was not a beauty ; but she possessed an undoubted 
individual charm, — a delicate attractiveness, which silently 
asserted itself, as the breath of honeysuckle hidden in the 
tangles of a hedge will delight the wayfarer with sweet fra- 
grance, though the flowers be unseen. 

"Your book was very clever, Mr Tempest," she said sud- 
denly, smiling at me. ** I read it as soon as it came out. But 
do you know I think your article was even cleverer?" 

I felt myself growing uncomfortably red in the face. 

" To what article do you allude, Miss Clare?" I stammered 
confusedly. ** I do not write for any magazine." 

"No?" and she laughed gaily. "But you did on this 
occasion! You 'slated' me very smartly? — I quite enjoyed 
it. I found out that you were the author of the philippic, — 
not through the editor of the journal — oh no, poor man ! he 
is very discreet ; but through quite another person who must 
be nameless. It is very difficult to prevent me from finding 
out whatever I wish to know, especially in literary matters. 
Why, you look quite unhappy!" and her blue eyes danced 
with fun as she handed me my cup of tea. " You really don't 
suppose I was hurt by your critique, do you ? Dear me, no ! 
Nothing of that kind ever affronts me, — I am far too busy to 


waste any thought on reviews or reviewers. Only your article 
was so exceptionally funny !" 

"Funny?" I echoed stupidly, trying to smile, but failing 
in the effort. 

" Yes, funny !" she repeated. '* It was so very angry that it 
became amusing. My poor ' Differences !' I am really sorry 
it put you into such a temper, — temper does exhaust one's 
energies so !" 

She laughed again, and sat down in her former place near 
me, regarding me with a frankly open and half humorous 
gaze which I found I could not meet with any sort of com- 
posure. To say I felt foolish, would inadequately express my 
sense of utter bafflement. This woman with her young un- 
clouded face, sweet voice and evidently happy nature, was not 
at all the creature I had imagined her to be, — and I struggled 
to say something, — anything, — that would furnish a reason- 
able and coherent answer. I caught Lucio's glance, — one of 
satirical amusement, — and my thoughts grew more entangled 
than ever. A distraction however occurred in the behaviour 
of the dog Tricksy, who suddenly took up a position im- 
mediately opposite Lucio, and lifting his nose in air began 
to howl with a desolate loudness astonishing in so small an 
animal. His mistress was surprised. 

''Tricksy, what /s the matter?" she exclaimed, catching 
him up in her arms where he hid his face shivering and 
moaning ; then she looked steadily at Lucio. ' ' I never knew 
him do such a thing before," she said. *' Perhaps you do not 
like dogs. Prince Rimanez?" 

'* I am afraid they do not like me /" he replied deferentially. 

" Then pray excuse me a moment," she murmured, and left 
the room, to return immediately without her canine favourite. 
After this I noticed that her blue eyes often rested on Lucio's 
handsome countenance with a bewildered and perplexed ex- 
pression, as if she saw something in his very beauty that she 
disliked or distrusted. Meanwhile I had recovered a little of 
my usual self-possession, and I addressed her in a tone which 


1 meant to be kind, but which I knew was somewhat 

" I am very glad, Miss Clare, that you were not offended at 
the article you speak of. It was rather strong I admit, — 
but you know we cannot all be of the same opinion ..." 

"Indeed no!" she said quietly and with a slight smile. 
" Such a state of things would make a very dull world ! I 
assure you I was not and am not in the least offended — the 
critique was a smart piece of writing, and made not the 
slightest effect on me or on my book. You remember what 
Shelley wrote of critics? No? You will find the passage 
in his preface to *The Revolt of Islam,' and it runs thus, — 
' I have sought to write as I believe that Homer, Shake- 
speare, and Milton wrote, with an utter disregard of anony- 
mous censure. I am certain that calumny and misrepresenta- 
tion, though it may move me to compassion, cannot disturb 
my peace. I shall understand the expressive silence of those 
sagacious enemies who dare not trust themselves to speak. I 
shall endeavour to extract from the midst of insult and con- 
tempt and maledictions, those admonitions which may tend to 
correct whatever imperfections such censurers may discern in 
my appeal to the Public. If certain Critics were as clear- 
sighted as they are malignant, how great would be the benefit 
to be derived from their virulent writings ! As it is, I fear I 
shall be malicious enough to be amused with their paltry tricks 
and lame invectives. Should the public judge that my com- 
position is worthless, I shall indeed bow before the tribunal 
from which Milton received his crown of immortality, and 
shall seek to gather, if I live, strength from that defeat, which 
may nerve me to some new enterprise of thought which may 
nc?/ be worthless ! ' " 

As she gave the quotation, her eyes darkened and deep- 
ened, her face was lighted up as by some inward illumina- 
tion, and I discovered the rich sweetness of the voice which 
made the name of ' Mavis' suit her so well. 

*' You see I know my Shelley !" she said with a little laugh 


at her own emotion. "And those words are particularly- 
familiar to me, because I have had them painted up on a 
panel in my study. Just to remind me, in case I should 
forget, what the really great geniuses of the world thought 
of criticism, — because their example is very encouraging and 
helpful to a humble little worker like myself. I am not a 
press- favourite — and I never get good reviews, — but — " and 
she laughed again — " I like my reviewers all the same ! If 
you have finished your tea will you come and see them?" 

Come and see them ! What did she mean ? She seemed 
delighted at my visible surprise, and her cheeks dimpled with 

''Come and see them!" she repeated. " They generally 
expect me at this hour ! ' ' 

She led the way into the garden, — we followed, I, in a 
bewildered confusion of mind, with all my ideas respecting 
'unsexed females' and repulsive b'ue-stockings upset by the 
unaffected behaviour and charming frankness of this ' celebrity' 
whose fame I envied, and whose personality I could not but 
admire. With all her intellectual gifts she was yet a lovable 

woman, ah Mavis ! — how lovable and dear I was destined 

in misery to know ! Mavis, Mavis ! —I whisper your sweet 
name in my solitude, — I see you in my dreams, and kneeling 
before you I call you Angel ! — my angel at the gate of a lost 
Paradise, whose Sword of Genius, turning every way, keeps 
me back from all approach to my forfeited Tree of Life ! 


Scarcely had we stepped out on the lawn before an un- 
pleasant incident occurred which might have ended danger- 
ously. At his mistress's approach the big St Bernard dog rose 
from the sunny corner where he had been peacefully dozing, 
and prepared to greet her, — but as soon as he perceived us 


he stopped short with an ominous growl. Before Miss Clare 
could utter a warning word, he made a couple of huge bounds 
and sprang savagely at Lucio as though to tear him in pieces. 
Lucio with admirable presence of mind caught him firmly by 
the throat and forced him backwards. Mavis turned deathly 

" Let me hold him ! He will obey me !" she cried, placing 
her little hand on the great dog's neck. '' Down, Emperor ! 
Down ! How dare you ! Down sir ! " 

In a moment * Emperor' dropped to the ground, and 
crouched abjectly at her feet, breathing heavily and trembling 
in every limb. She held him by the collar, and looked up at 
Lucio who was perfectly composed, though his eyes flashed 

'' I am so very sorry ! " she murmured. "I forgot, — you 
told me dogs do not like you. But what a singularly marked 
antipathy, is it not? I cannot understand it. Emperor is 
generally so good-natured, — I must apologize for his bad con- 
duct — it is quite unusual. I hope he has not liurt you?" 

*' Not at all !" returned Lucio affably and with a cold smile. 
** I hope I have not hurt him, — or distressed j<??^ .^" 

She made no reply, but led the St Bernard away and was 
absent for a few minutes. While she was gone, Lucio' s brow 
clouded, and his face grew very stern. 

"■ What do you think of her?" he asked me abruptly. 

"I hardly know what to think," I answered abstractedly. 
'' She is very different to what I imagined. Her dogs are 
rather unpleasant company ! " 

** They are honest animals!" he said morosely. ''They 
are no 'doubt accustomed to candour in their mistress, and 
therefore object to personified lies." 

"Speak for yourself !" I said irritably. '' They object to 
you, chiefly." 

''Am I not fully aware of that?" he retorted — "and do I 
not speak for myself? You do not suppose I would call you 
a personified lie, do you, — even if it were true ! I would not 


be so uncivil. But I am a living lie, and knowing it I admit 
it, which gives me a certain claim to honesty above the ordi- 
nary run of men. This woman-wearer of laurels is a personi- 
fied truth ! — imagine it ! — she has no occasion to pretend to 
be anything else than she is ! No wonder she is famous !" 

I said nothing, as just then the subject of our conversation 
returned, tranquil and smiling, and did her best, with the tact 
and grace of a perfect hostess, to make us forget her dog's 
ferocious conduct, by escorting us through a 1 the prettiest 
turns and twisting paths of her garden, which was quite a 
bower of spring beauty. She talked to us both with equal 
ease, brightness and cleverness, though I observed that she 
studied Lucio with close interest, and watched his looks and 
movements with more curiosity than liking. Passing under 
an arching grove of budding syringas we presently came to an 
open court-yard paved with blue and white tiles, having, in its 
centre a picturesque dove-cote built in the form of a Chinese 
pagoda. Here pausing. Mavis clapped her hands. A cloud 
of doves, white, grey, brown, and opalescent, answered the 
summons, circling round and round her head, and flying down 
m excited groups at her feet. 

*' Here are my reviewers !" she said laughing. ^' Are they 
not pretty creatures? The ones I know best are named 
after their respective journals, — there are plenty of anony- 
mous ones of course, who flock in with the rest. Here, for 
instance, is the 'Saturday Review,' " and she picked up a 
strutting bird with coral-tinted feet, who seemed to rather like 
the attention shown to him. ''He fights with all his com- 
panions and drives them away from the food whenever he 
can. He is such a quarrelsome creature !" — here she stroked 
the bird's head. "You never know how to please him, — he 
takes offence at the corn sometimes, and will only eat peas, or 
vice versa. He quite deserves his name. — Go away, old boy !" 
and she flung the pigeon in the air and watched it soaring up 
and down. '' He is such a comical old grumbler ! There is 
the ' Speaker,' " and she pointed to a fat fussy fan tail. " He 


struts very well, and fancies he's important, you know, but he 
isn't. Over there is ' Public Opinion,' — that one half-asleep 
on the wall ; next to him is the * Spectator,' — you see he has 
two rings round his eyes like spectacles. That brown creature 
with the fluffy wings all by himself on that flower-pot is the 
* Nineteenth Century,' the little bird with the green neck is 
the 'Westminster Gazette,' and the fat one sitting on the 
platform of the cote is the * Pall-Mali. ' He knows his name 
very well — see !" and she called merrily — " Pall-Mali ! Come 
boy! — come here!" The bird obeyed at once, and flying 
down from the cote, settled on her shoulder. *' There are so 
many others, — it is difficult to distinguish them sometimes," 
she continued. " Whenever I get a bad review I name a 
pigeon, — it amuses me. That draggle-tailed one with the 
muddy feet is the ' Sketch,' — he is not at all a well-bred bird 
I must tell you ! — that smart-looking dove with the purple 
breast is the 'Graphic,' and that bland old grey thing is the 
'I. L. N.' short for 'Illustrated London News.' Those three 
white ones are respectively 'Daily Telegraph,' 'Morning 
Post,' and 'Standard.' Now see them all!" and taking a 
covered basket from a corner she began to scatter corn and 
peas and various grains in lavish quantities all over the court. 
For a moment we could scarcely see the sky, so thickly the 
birds flocked together, struggling, fighting, swooping down- 
wards, and soaring upwards, — but the winged confusion soon 
gave place to something like order when they were all on the 
ground, and busy selecting their respective favourite foods from 
the different sorts provided for their choice. 

"You are indeed a sweet-natured philosopher," said Lucio 
smiling, "if you can symbolize your adverse reviewers by a 
flock of doves ! ' ' 

She laughed merrily. 

"Well, it is a remedy against all irritation," she returned. 
" I used to worry a good deal over my work, and wonder why 
it was that the press people were so unnecessarily hard upon 
me, when they showed so much leniency and encouragement 


to far worse writers, — but after a little serious consideration, 
finding that critical opinion carried no sort of conviction 
whatever to the public, I determined to trouble no more about 
it, — except in the way of doves !" 

"In the way of doves, you feed your reviewers," I ob- 

" Exactly ! And I suppose I help to feed them even as 
women and men!" she said. "They get something from 
their editors for 'slashing' my work, — and they probably 
make a little more out of selling their 'review copies.' So 
you see the dove-emblem holds good throughout. But 
you have not seen the 'Athenaeum,' oh, you 7nust see 

With laughter still lurking in her blue eyes, she took us out 
of the pigeon-court, and led the way round to a sequestered 
and shady corner of the garden, where, in a large aviary-cage 
fitted up for its special convenience, sat a solemn white owl. 
The instant it perceived us, it became angry, and ruffling up 
its downy feathers, rolled its glistening yellow eyes vindictively 
and opened its beak. Two smaller owls sat in the background, 
pressed close together, — one grey, the other brown. 

" Cross old boy !" said Mavis, addressing the spiteful-look- 
ing creature in the sweetest of accents. " Haven't you found 
any mice to kill to-day? Oh, what wicked eyes! — what a 
snappy mouth !" Then turning to us, she went on — "Isn't 
he a lovely owl? Doesn't he look wise? — but as a matter 
of fact he's just as stupid as ever he can be. That is why 
I call him the 'Athenaeum' ! He looks so profound, you'd 
fancy he knows everything, — but he really thinks of nothing 
but killing mice all the time, — which limits his intelligence 
considerably !" 

Lucio laughed heartily, and so did I, — she looked so mis- 
chievous and merry. 

"But there are two other owls in the cage," I said. 
" What are their names ?' ' 

She held up a little finger in playful warning. 



*' Ah, that would be telling secrets !" she said. '' They're 
all the 'Athenaeum' — the holy Three — a sort of literary 
Trinity. But why a Trinity I do not venture to explain ! — 
it is a riddle I must leave you to guess !" 

She moved on, and we followed across a velvety grass-plot 
bordered with bright spring-flowers, such as crocuses, tulips, 
anemones, and hyacinths, and presently pausing she asked, 
'' Would you care to see m)' work-room?" 

I found myself agreeing to this proposition with an almost 
boyish enthusiasm. Lucio glanced at me with a slight half- 
cynical smile. 

" Miss Clare, are you going to name a pigeon after Mr 
Tempest?" he inquired. " He played the part of an adverse 
critic, you know — but I doubt whether he will ever do so 
again !" 

She looked round at me and smiled. 

''Oh, I have been merciful to Mr Tempest," she replied. 
" He is among the anonymous birds whom I do not specially 
recognise !" 

She stepped into the arched embrasure of an open window 
which fronted the view of the grass and flowers, and entering 
with her, we found ourselves in a large room, octagonal in 
shape, where the first object that attracted and riveted the 
attention was a marble bust of the Pallas Athene, whose grave 
impassive countenance and iranquil brows directly faced the 
sun. A desk strewn with papers occupied the left-hand side 
of the window-nook, — in a corner draped with olive-green 
velvet, the white presence of the Apollo Belvedere taught in 
his inscrutable yet radiant smile, the lesson of love and the 
triumphs of fame — and numbers of books were about, not 
ranged in formal rows on shelves as if they were never read, 
but placed on low tables and wheeled stands, that they might 
be easily taken up and glanced at. The arrangement of the 
walls chiefly excited my interest and admiration, for these 
were divided into panels, and every panel had, inscribed upon 
it in letters of gold, some phrase from the philosophers, or 


some verse from the poets. The passage from Shelley which 
Mavis had recently quoted to us, occupied, as she had said, 
one panel, and above it hung a beautiful bas-relief of the 
drowned poet, copied from the monument at Via Reggio. 
Another and broader panel held a fine engraved portrait of 
Shakespeare, and under the picture appeared the lines — 

" To thine own self be true, 
And it must follow as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man." 

Byron was represented, — also Keats ; but it would have 
taken more than a day to examine the various suggestive 
quaintnesses and individual charms of this 'workshop,' as its 
owner called it, though the hour was to come when I should 
know every corner of it by heart, and look upon it as a 
haunted outlaw of bygone ages looked upon * sanctuary.' 
But now time gave us little pause, — and when we had suffi- 
ciently expressed our pleasure and gratitude for the kindness 
with which we had been received, Lucio, glancing at his 
watch, suggested departure. 

''We could stay on here for an indefinite period, Miss 
Clare," he said wnth an unwonted softness in his dark eyes. 
"It is a place for peace and happy meditation, — a restful 
corner for a tired soul." He checked a slight sigh, — then 
went on — " But trains wait for no man, and we are returning 
to town to-night." 

" Then I wdll not detain you any longer," said our young 
hostess, leading the way at once by a side-door, through a 
passage filled with flowering plants, into the drawing-room 
where she had first entertained us. "I hope, Mr Tempest," 
she added, smiling at me, " that now we have met, you will 
no longer desire to qualify as one of my pigeons ! It is 
scarcely worth while !" 

"Miss Clare," I said, now speaking with unaffected sin- 
cerity, " I assure you, on my honour, I am very sorry I wrote 


that article against you. If I had only known you as you 
are — ' ' 

''Oh, that should make no difference to a critic!" she 
answered merrily. 

*' It would have made a great difference to me," I declared. 
"You are so unlike the objectionable ' literary woman' — " I 
paused, and she regarded me smilingly with her bright clear 
candid eyes, — then I added — ''I must tell you that Sibyl, — 
Lady Sibyl Elton, — is one of your most ardent admirers." 

'' I am very pleased to hear that," she said simply. " I am 
always glad when I succeed in winning somebody's approval 
and liking." 

''Does not everyone approve and admire you?" asked 

" Oh, no ! By no means ! The ' Saturday' says I only win 
the applause of shop-girls!" and she laughed. "Poor old 
' Saturday' ! — the writers on its staff are so jealous of any suc- 
cessful author. I told the Prince of Wales what it said the 
other day, and he was very much amused. ' ' 

"You know the Prince?" I asked, in a little surprise. 

" Well, it would be more correct to say that he knows me," 
she replied. "He has been very good in taking some little 
interest in my books. He knows a good deal about litera- 
ture too, — much more than people give him credit for. He 
has been here more than once, — and has seen me feed my re- 
viewers — the pigeons, you know ! He rather enjoyed the fun, 
I think!" 

And this was all the result of the ' slating' the press gave to 
Mavis Clare ! Simply that she named her doves after her 
critics, and fed them in the presence of whatever royal or dis- 
tinguished visitors she might have (and I afterwards learned 
she had many), amid, no doubt, much laughter from those who 
saw the 'Spectator' pigeon fighting for grains of corn, or the 
' Saturday Review' pigeon quarrelling over peas ! Evidently 
no reviewer, spiteful or otherwise, could affect the vivacious 
nature of such a mischievous elf as she was. 


"How different 7011 are — how widely different — to the 
ordinary run of literary people !" I said involuntarily. 

''I am glad you find me so," she answered. **I hope I 
am different. As a rule, literary people take themselves far 
too seriously and attach too much importance to what they do. 
That is why they become such bores. I don't believe anyone 
ever did thoroughly good work who was not perfectly happy 
over it and totally indifferent to opinion. I should be quite 
content to write on, if I only had a garret to live in. I was 
once very poor, — shockingly poor ; and even now I am not 
rich, but I've got just enough to keep me working steadily, 
which is as it should be. If I had more, I might get lazy and 
neglect my work, — then you know Satan might step into my 
life, and it would be a question of idle hands and mischief to 
follow, according to the adage." 

" I think you would have strength enough to resist Satan," 
said Lucio, looking at her stedfastly, with sombre scrutiny in 
his expressive eyes. 

"Oh, I don't know about that, — I could not be sure of 
myself!" and she smiled. "I should imagine he must be a 
dangerously fascinating personage. I never picture him as 
the possessor of hoofs and a tail, — common-sense assures me 
that no creature presenting himself under such an aspect 
would have the slightest power to attract. Milton's conception 
of Satan is the finest," — and her eyes darkened swiftly with 
the intensity of her thoughts — " A mighty Angel fallen ! — one 
cannot but be sorry for such a fall, if the legend were true !" 

There was a sudden silence. A bird sang outside, and a 
little breeze swayed the lilies in the window to and fro. 

" Good-bye, Mavis Clare !" said Lucio very softly, almost 
tenderly. His voice was low and tremulous — his face grave 
and pale. She looked up at him in a little surprise. 

" Good-bye !" she rejoined, extending her small hand. He 
held it a moment, — then, to my secret astonishment, knowing 
his aversion to women, stooped and kissed it. She flushed 
rosily as she withdrew it from his clasp. 


"Be always as you are, Mavis Clare," he said gently. 
*' Let nothin^r change you ! Keep that bright nature of yours, 
— that unruffled spirit of quiet contentment, and you may 
wear the bitter laurel of fame as sweetly as a rose. I have seen 
the world ; I have travelled far, and have met many famous 
men and women, — kings and queens, senators, poets and 
philosophers, — my experience has been wide and varied, so 
that I am not altogether without authority for what I say, — and 
I assure you that the Satan of whom you are able to speak with 
compassion, can never trouble the peace of a pure and con- 
tented soul. Like consorts with like, — a fallen angel seeks 
the equally fallen, — and the devil, — if there be one, — be- 
comes the companion of those only who take pleasure in his 
teaching and society. Legends say he is afraid of a crucifix, 
— but if he is afraid of anything I should say it must be of 
that ' sweet content' concerning which your country's Shake- 
speare sings, and which is a better defence against evil than the 
church or the prayers of the clergy ! I speak as one having 
the right of age to speak, — I am so many many years older 
than you ! — you must forgive me if I have said too much !" 

She was quite silent ; evidently moved and surprised at his 
words ; and she gazed at him with a vaguely wondering, half- 
awed expression, — an expression which changed directly I 
myself advanced to make my adieu. 

"I am very glad to have met you. Miss Clare," I said. 
" I hope we shall be friends !" 

"There is no reason why we should be enemies I think," 
she responded frankly. " I am very pleased you came to-day. 
If ever you want to ' slate' me again, you know your fate ! — 
you become a dove, — nothing more ! Good-bye !" 

She saluted us prettily as we passed out, and when the gate 
had closed behind us we heard the deep and joyous baying of 
the great dog 'Emperor,' evidently released from 'durance 
vile' immediately on our departure. We walked on for some 
time in silence, and it was not till we had re-entered the 
grounds of Willowsmere, and were making our way to the 


drive, where the carriage which was to take us to the station 
already awaited us, that Lucio said — 

** Well ; 710W, what do you think of her ?" 

*' She is as unlike the accepted ideal of the female novelist 
as she can well be," I answered, with a laugh. 

"Accepted ideals are generally mistaken ones," he ob- 
served, watching me narrowly. *' An accepted ideal of Divinity 
in some church pictures, is an old man's face set in a triangle. 
The accepted ideal of the devil is a nondescript creature, with 
horns, hoofs (one of them cloven) and a tail, as Miss Clare 
just now remarked. The accepted ideal of beauty is the 
Venus de Medicis, — whereas your Lady Sibyl entirely tran- 
scends that much over-rated statue. The accepted ideal of a 
poet is Apollo, — he was a god, — and no poet in the flesh ever 
approaches the god-like. And the accepted ideal of the 
female novelist, is an elderly, dowdy, spectacled, frowsy 
fright, — Mavis Clare does not fulfil this description, yet she is 
the author of ' Differences. ' Now McWhing, who thrashes 
her continually in all the papers he can command, is elderly, 
ugly, spectacled and frowsy, and he is the author of — nothing ! 
Women- authors are invariably supposed to be hideous, — men 
authors for the most part are hideous. But their hideousness 
is not noted or insisted upon, — whereas, no matter how good- 
looking women writers may be, they still pass under press- 
comment as frights, because the fiat of press-opinion considers 
they ought to be frights, even if they are not. A pretty 
authoress is an offence, — an incongruity, — a something that 
neither men nor women care about. Men don't care about 
her, because being clever and independent, she does not often 
care about them, — women don't care about her, because she 
has the effrontery to combine attractive looks with intelligence, 
and she makes an awkward rival to those who have only attrac- 
tive looks without intelligence. So wags the world ! — 

O wild world ! — circling through aeons untold, — 

'Mid fires of sunrise and sunset, — through flashes of silver and gold, — 

Grain of dust in a storm, — atom of sand by the sea, — 

What is your worth, O world, to the Angels of God and me ! 


He sang this quite suddenly, his rich baritone pealing out 
musically on the warm silent air. I listened entranced. 

" What a voice you have !" I exclaimed. '* What a glorious 

He smiled, and sang on, his dark eyes flashing — 

O wild world ! mote in a burning ray 

Flung from the spherical Heavens millions of spaces away — 

Sink in the ether or soar ! Live with the planets or die !— 

What should I care for your fate, who am one with the Infinite Sky 1 

''What Strange song is that?" I asked, startled and thrilled 
by the passion of his voice. *' It seems to mean nothing !" 

He laughed, and took my arm. 

"It does mean nothing!" he said. ''All drawing-room 
songs mean nothing. Mine is a drawing-room song — calcu- 
lated to waken emotional impulses in the unloved spinster, 
religiously inclined !" 

"Nonsense !" I said, smiling. 

" Exactly. That is what I say. It is nonsense." Here we 
came up to the carriage which waited for us. "Just twenty 
minutes to catch the train, Geoffrey ! Off we go !" 

And off we did go, — I watching the red gabled roofs of 
Willowsmere Court shining in the late sunshine, till a turn in 
the road hid them from view. 

"You like your purchase?" queried Lucio presently. 

"I do. Immensely !" 

" And your rival. Mavis Clare? Do you like her?" 

I paused a moment, then answered frankly — 

" Yes. I like her. And I will admit something more than 
that to you now. I like her book. It is a noble work, — • 
worthy of the most highly-gifted man. I always liked it — 
and because I liked it, I slated it." 

" Rather a mysterious course of procedure !" and he smiled. 
" Can you not explain?" 

" Of course I can explain," I said. " Explanation is easy. 
I envied her power — I envy it still. Her popularity caused 
me a smarting sense of injury, and to relieve it I wrote that 


article against her. But I shall never do anything of the kind 
again. I shall let her grow her laurels in peace." 

" Laurels have a habit of growing without any permission," 
observed Lucio significantly. "In all sorts of unexpected 
places too. And they can never be properly cultivated in the 
forcing-house of criticism." 

"I know that!" I said quickly, my thoughts reverting to 
my own book, and all the favourable criticisms that had been 
heaped upon it. "I have learned that lesson thoroughly, by 

He looked at me fixedly. 

'' It is only one of many you may have yet to learn," he said. 
''It is a lesson in fame. Your next course of instruction 
will be in love." 

He smiled, — but I was conscious of a certain dread and 
discomfort as he spoke. I thought of Sibyl and her incom- 
parable beauty — Sibyl, who had told me she could not love, 
— had we both to learn a lesson ? And should we master it ? 
— or would it master us ? 


The preparations for my marriage now went on apace, — 
shoals of presents began to arrive for Sibyl as well as for my- 
self, and I was introduced to an hitherto undemonstrated phase 
(as far I personally was concerned) of the vulgarity and hypoc- 
risy of fashionable society. Everyone knew the extent of my 
wealth, and how little real necessity there was for offering me 
or my bride-elect costly gifts ; nevertheless, all our so-called 
' friends' and acquaintances, strove to outvie each other in the 
gross cash-value, if not in the good taste of their various dona- 
tions. Had we been a young couple bravely beginning the 
world on true love, in more or less uncertainty as to our pros- 
pects and future income; we should have received nothing 


either useful or valuable, — everyone would have tried to do the 
present-giving in as cheap and mean a way as possible. In- 
stead of handsome services of solid silver, we should have had 
a meagre collection of plated teaspoons ; instead of costly 
editions of books sumptuously enriched with fine steel en- 
gravings, we might possibly have had to express our gratitude 
for a ten-shilling Family Bible. Of course I fully realized the 
actual nature and object of the lavish extravagance displayed 
on this occasion by our social 'set,' — their gifts were merely 
so many bribes, sent with a purpose which was easy enough to 
fathom. The donors wished to be invited to the wedding in 
the first place, — after that, they sought to be included in our 
visiting-list, and foresaw invitations to our dinners and house- 
parties ; — and more than this they calculated on our influence 
in society, and the possible chance their might be in the dim 
future of our lending some of them money should pressing 
occasion require it. In the scant thankfulness and suppressed 
contempt their adulatory offerings excited, Sibyl and I were 
completely at one. She looked upon her array of glittering 
valuables with the utmost weariness and indifference, and flat- 
tered my self-love by assuring me that the only things she cared 
at all for were the riviere of sapphires and diamonds I had 
given her as a betrothal-pledge, together with an engagement- 
ring of the same lustrous gems. Yet I noticed she also had a 
great liking for Lucio's present, which was a truly magnificent 
masterpiece of the jeweller's art. It was a girdle in the form 
of a serpent, the body entirely composed of the finest emeralds, 
and the head of rubies and diamonds. Flexible as a reed, 
when Sibyl put it on it appeared to spring and coil round her 
waist like a living thing, and breathe with her breathing. I 
did not much care for it myself as an ornament for a young 
bride, — it seemed to me quite unsuitable, — but as everyone 
else admired it and envied the possessor of such superb jewels, 
I said nothing of my own distaste. Diana Chesney had shown 
a certain amount of delicate sentiment and refinement in her 
offering, — it was a very exquisite marble statue of Psyche, 


mounted on a pedestal of solid silver and ebony. Sibyl 
thanked her, smiling coldly. 

''You have given me an emblem of the Soul," she said. 
*' No doubt you remembered I have no soul of my own." 

And her airy laugh had chilled poor Diana ' to the marrow,' 
as the warm-hearted little American herself, with tears, assured 
me. At this period I saw very little of Rimanez. I was much 
occupied with my lawyers on the question of 'settlements.' 
Me.-5srs Bentham and Ellis rather objected to the arrangement 
by which I gave the half of my fortune to my intended wife 
unconditionally ; but I would brook no interference, and the 
deed was drawn up, signed, sealed and witnessed. The Earl 
of Elton could not sufficiently praise my ' unexampled gener- 
osity' — my 'noble character,' — and walked about, eulogizing 
me everywhere, till he almost turned himself into a public 
advertisement of the virtues of his future son-in-law. He 
seemed to have taken a new lease of life, — he flirted with 
Diana Chesney openly, — and of his paralyzed spouse with the 
fixed stare and deathly grin, he never spoke, and, I imagine, 
never thought. Sibyl herself was always in the hands of 
dressmakers and milliners, — and we only saw each other every 
day for a few minutes' hurried chat. On these occasions she 
was always charming, — even affectionate ; and yet, — though I 
was full of passionate admiration and love for her, I felt that 
she was mine merely as a slave might be mine ; that she gave 
me her lips to kiss as if she considered I had a right to kiss 
them because I had bought them, and for no other reason, — 
that her pretty caresses were studied, and her whole behaviour 
the result of careful forethought and not natural impulsive- 
ness. I tried to shake off this impression, but it still re- 
mained persistently, and clouded the sweetness of my brief 

Meanwhile, slowly and almost imperceptibly, my ' boomed' 
book dropped out of notice. Morgeson presented a heavy 
bill of publishing costs which I paid without a murmur; now 
and then an allusion to my ' literary triumphs' cropped up in 


one or other of the newspapers, but otherwise no one spoke of 
my * famous' work, and few read it. I enjoyed the same sort 
of ' cliquey' reputation and public failure attending Pater's 
novel entitled ' Marius the Epicurean.' The journalists with 
whom I had come in contact, began to drift away like flotsam 
and jetsam ; I think they saw I was not likely to give many 
more ' reviewing' dinners or suppers, and that my marriage 
with the Earl of Elton's daughter would lift me into an atmos- 
phere where ' Grub-street' could not breathe comfortably, or 
stretch its legs at ease. The heap of gold on which I sat as 
on a throne, divided me gradually from even the back courts 
and lower passages leading to the Temple of Fame, and almost 
unconsciously to myself I retreated step by step, shading my eyes 
as it were from the sun, and seeing the glittering turrets in the 
distance, with a woman's slight figure entering the lofty por- 
tico, turning back her laurelled head to smile sorrowfully and 
with divinest pity upon me, ere passing in to salute the gods. 
Yet, if asked about it, everyone on the press would have 
said that I had had a great success. I — only I — realized the 
bitterness and truth of my failure. I had not touched the 
heart of the public ; — I had not succeeded in so waking my 
readers out of the torpor of their dull and commonplace every ^' 
day lives, that they should turn towards me with outstretched 
hands, exclaiming — " More, — more of these thoughts which 
comfort and inspire us ! — which make us hear God's voice 
proclaiming * All's well !' above the storms of life !" I had 
not done it, — I could not do it. And the worst part of my 
feelings on this point was the idea that possibly I might have 
done it had I remained poor ! The strongest and healthiest 
pulse in the composition of a man, — the necessity for hard 
work, — had been killed in me. I knew I need not work ; that 
the society in which I now moved thought it ridiculous if I 
did work ; that I was expected to spend money and * enjoy' 
myself in the idiotic fashion of what the ' upper ten' term 
enjoyment. My acquaintances were not slow in suggesting 
plans for the dissipation of my surplus cash, — why did I not 


build for myself a marble palace on the Riviera? — or a yacht 
to completely outshine the Prince of Wales's ' Britannia' ? 
Why did I not start a theatre ? or found a newspaper ? Not 
one of my social advisers once proposed my doing any private 
personal good with my fortune. When some terrible case of 
distress was published, and subscriptions were raised to relieve 
the object or objects of suffering, I invariably gave Ten 
Guineas, and allowed myself to be thanked for my ' generous 
assistance.' I might as well have given ten pence, for the 
guineas were no more to me in comparison than the pence. 
When funds were started to erect a statue to some great man 
who had, in the usual way of the world, been a victim of mis- 
representation till his death, I produced my Ten Guineas 
again, when I could easily have defrayed the whole cost 
of the memorial, with honour to myself, and been none the 
poorer. With all my wealth I did nothing noteworthy; I 
showered no unexpected luck in the way of the patient, strug- 
gling workers in the hard schools of literature and art ; I gave 
no * largesse' among the poor ; — and when a thin eager-eyed 
curate with a strong earnest face, called upon me one day, to 
represent, with much nervous diffidence, the hideous sufferings 
of some of the sick and starving in his district down by the 
docks, and suggested that I might possibly care to alleviate a 
few of these direful sorrows as a satisfaction to myself, as well 
as for the sake of human brotherhood, I am ashamed to say 
I let hiin go with a sovereign, for v/hich he heaped coals of fire 
on my head by his simple ' God bless you, and thank you.' 
I could see he was himself in the grip of poverty, — I could 
have made him and his poor district gloriously happy by a few 
strokes of my pen on a cheque for an amount I should never 
have missed, — and yet — I gave him nothing but that one piece 
of gold, and so allowed him to depart. He invited me, with 
earnest goodwill, to go and see his starving flock, — " for, be- 
lieve me, Mr Tempest," said he, "1 should be sorry if you 
thought, as some of the wealthy are unhappily apt to do, that 
I seek money simply to apply it to my own personal uses. If 

1. q 21 


you would visit the district yourself, and distribute whatever 
you pleased with your own hand, it would be infinitely more 
gratifying to me, and would have a far better effect on the 
minds of the people. For, sir, the poor will not always be 
patient under the cruel burdens they have to bear." 

I smiled indulgently, and assured him, not without a touch 
of satire in my tone, that I was convinced all clergymen were 
honest and unselfish, — and then I sent my servant to bow him 
out with all possible politeness. And that very day I remem- 
ber, I drank at my luncheon Chateau Yquem at twenty-five 
shillings a bottle. 

I enter into these apparently trifling details because they 
all help to make up the sum and substance of the deadly con- 
sequences to follow, — and also because I wish to emphasize 
the fact that in my actions I only imitated the example of my 
compeers. Every rich man to-day follows the same course as 
I did, — and active personal good to the community is wrought 
by none of them. No great deed of generosity illumines our 
annals. Royalty itself leads no fashion in this, — the royal 
gifts of game and cast-off clothing sent to our hospitals are too 
slight and conventional to carry weight. The * entertainments 
for the poor' got up by some of the aristocrats at the East 
end, are nothing, and less than nothing. They are weak 
sops to our tame ' lion couchant,' offered in doubtful fear and 
trembling. For our lion is wakefiil and somewhat restive, — 
there is no knowing what may happen if the original ferocity 
of the beast is roused. A few of our over-rich men might 
considerably ease the load of cruel poverty in many quarters 
of the metropolis if they united themselves with a noble un- 
selfishness in the strong and determined effort to do so, and 
eschewed red-tapeism and wordy argument. But they remain 
inert ; — spending solely on their own personal gratification 
and amusement, — and meanwhile there are dark signs of 
trouble brooding. The poor, as the lean and anxious curate 
said, will not always be patient ! 

I must not here forget to mention that according to the 



suggestion Rimanez had made to me on the second day of 
our acquaintance, he had entered a horse for me to run the 
Derby. It was a superb creature named ' Phosphor, ' and 
where it came from, Lucio would not say. It was shown to a 
few experts who not only seemed astonished but considerably 
taken aback by the perfection of the animal at all points, — 
and Rimanez, whose gift to me it was, warned me to be care- 
ful as to the character of the persons admitted into the stables 
to view it, and to allow no one but the horse's own two at- 
tendants to linger near it long on any pretext. Speculation 
was very rife as to what ' Phosphor's' capabilities really were ; 
the grooms never showed him off to advantage during exer- 
cise. I was amazed when Lucio told me his man Amiel would 
be the jockey. 

*' Good heavens ! — not possible !" I exclaimed. '' Can he 

*' Like the very devil !" responded my friend with a smile. 
*• He will ride ' Phosphor' to the winning-post." 

I was very doubtful in my own mind of this ; a horse of 
the Prime Minister's was to run, and all the betting was on 
that side. Few had seen 'Phosphor,' and those few, though 
keen admirers of the animal's appearance, had little oppor- 
tunity of judging its actual qualities, thanks to the careful 
management of its two attendants, who were dark-faced, 
reticent-looking men, somewhat after Amiel' s character and 
complexion. I myself was quite indifferent as to the result of 
the contest. I did not really care whether ' Phosphor' lost or 
won the race. I could afford to lose ; and it would be little 
to me if I won, save a momentary passing triumph. There 
was nothing lasting, intellectual or honourable in the vic- 
tory,— there is nothing lasting, intellectual or honourable in 
anything connected with racing. However, because it was 
* fashionable' to be interested in this particular mode of wast- 
ing time and money, I followed the general Mead,' for the 
sake of ' being talked about,' and nothing more. Meanwhile, 
Lucio, saying little to me concerning it, was busy planning 


the 'betrothal-fete' at Willowsmere, and designing all sorts 
of 'surprise' entertainments for the guests. Eight hundred 
invitations were sent out : and society soon began to chatter 
volubly and excitedly on the probable magnificence of the 
forthcoming festival. Eager acceptances poured in; only a 
few of those asked were hindered from attending by illness, 
family deaths or previous engagements, and among these 
latter, to my regret, was Mavis Clare. She was going to the 
sea-coast to stay with some old friends, and in a prettily- 
worded letter explained this, and expressed her thanks for my 
invitation though she found herself unable to accept it ! How 
curious it was that when I read her little note of refusal I 
should experience such a keen sense of disappointment ! She 
was nothing to me, — nothing but a ' literary' woman who, by 
strange chance, happened to be sweeter than most women lui- 
literary ; and yet I felt that the fete at Willowsmere would lose 
something in brightness lacking her presence. I had wanted 
to introduce her to Sibyl, as I knew I should thus give a 
special pleasure to my betrothed, — however, it was not to be, 
and I was conscious of an inexplicable personal vexation. In 
strict accordance with the promise made, I let Rimanez have 
his own way entirely with regard to all the arrangements for 
what was to be the ne plus ultra of everything ever designed 
for the distraction, amusement and wonderment of listless and 
fastidious ' swagger' people, and I neither interfered, nor asked 
any questions, content to rely on my friend's taste, imagina- 
tion and ingenuity. I only understood that all the plans were 
being carried out by foreign artists and caterers, — and that no 
English firms would be employed. I did venture once to in- 
quire the reason of this, and got one of Lucio's own enig- 
matical replies : — 

"Nothing English is good enough for the English," he 
said. ** Things have to be imported from France to please 
the people whom the French themselves angrily designate as 
' perfide Albion.' You must not have a ' Bill of Fare' ; you 
must have a ' Menu' ; and all your dishes must bear French 


titles, otherwise they will not be in good form. You must 
have French ' comediennes' and ' danseuses' to please the 
British taste, and your silken draperies must be woven on 
French looms. Lately too, it has been deemed necessary to 
import Parisian morality as well as Parisian fashions. Jt does 
not suit stalwart Great Britain at all, you know, — stalwart 
Great Britain, aping the manners of Paris, looks like a jolly 
open-faced, sturdy-limbed Giant, with a doll's bonnet stuck 
on his leonine head. But the doll's bonnet is just now /a 
viode. Some day 1 believe the Giant will discover it looks 
ridiculous, and cast it off with a burst of genuine laughter at 
his own temporary folly. And without it, he will resume his 
original dignity ; — the dignity that best becomes a privileged 
conqueror who has the sea for his standing army." 

" Evidently you like England 1" I said smiling. 

He laughed. 

" Not in the very least ! I do not like England any more 
than any other country on the globe. I do not like the globe 
itself; and England comes in for a share of my aversion as 
one of the spots on the trumpery ball. If I could have my 
way, I should like to throne myself on a convenient star for 
the purpose and kick out at Earth as she whirls by in space, 
hoping by that act of just violence to do away with her for 
ever." ^ 

*'But why?" I asked, amused. ''Why do you hate the 
Earth ? What has the poor little planet done to merit your 
abhorrence ?" 

He looked at me very strangely. 

'' Shall I tell you ? You will never believe me !" 

" No matter for that !" I answered smiling. '' Say on !" 

"What has the poor little planet done?" he repeated 
slowly. " The poor little planet has done — nothing. But it 
is what the gods have done with this same poor little planet, 
that awakens my anger and scorn. They have made it a 
living sphere of wonders, — endowed it with beauty borrowed 
from the fairest corners of highest Heaven, — decked it with 



flowers and foliage, — taught it music, — the music of birds 
and torrents and rolling waves and falling rains, —rocked it 
gently in clear ether among such light as blinds the eyes of 
mortals,— guided it out of chaos, through clouds of thunder 
and barbed shafts of lightning, to circle peacefully in its ap- 
pointed orbit, lit on the one hand by the vivid splendours of 
the sun, and on the other by the sleepy radiance of the moon ; 
— and more than all this, they have invested it with a Divine 
Soul in man. Oh, you may disbelieve as you will, — but not- 
withstanding the pigmy peeps earth takes at the vast and 
eternal ocean of Science, the Soul is here, and all the im- 
mortal forces with it and around it ! Nay, the gods — I speak 
in the plural, after the fashion of the ancient Greeks — for to 
my thinking there are many gods emanating from the Supreme 
Deity, — the gods, I say, have so insisted on this fact, that 
One of them has walked the earth in human guise, solely 
for the sake of emphasizing the truth of Immortality to these 
frail creatures of seemingly perishable clay ! For this I hate 
the planet ; — were there not, and are there not other and far 
grander worlds, that a God should have chosen to dwell on 
this one !" 

For a moment I was silent, out of sheer surprise. 

" You amaze me !" I said at last. " You allude to Christ, 
I suppose ; but everybody is convinced by this time that He 
was a mere man like the rest of us ; there was nothing divine 
about Him. What a contradiction you are! Why, I re- 
member you indignantly denied the accusation of being a 

*' Of course, — and I deny it still," he answered quickly. 
" I have not a fat living in the church that I should tell a lie 
on such a subject. I am not a Christian ; nor is anyone living 
a Christian. To quote a very old saying, ' There never was a 
Christian save One, and He was crucified.' But though I 
am not a Christian, I never said I doubted the existence ot 
Christ. That knowledge was forced upon me, — with con- 
siderable pressure too." 


"By a reliable authority?" I inquired with a slight 

He made no immediate reply. His flashing eyes looked, 
as it were, through me and beyond me at something far away. 
The curious pallor that at times gave his face the set look of 
an impenetrable mask, came upon him then, and he smiled, 
— an awful smile. So might a man smile out of deadly 
bravado, when told of some dim and dreadful torture await- 
ing him. 

''You touch me on a sore point," he said at last, slowly 
and in a harsh tone. *'My convictions respecting certain 
religious phases of man's development and progress are 
founded on the arduous study of some very unpleasant truths 
to which humanity generally shuts its eyes, burying its head 
in the desert-sands of its own delusions. These truths I will 
not enter upon now. Some other time I will initiate you into 
a few of my mysteries." 

The tortured smile passed from his face, leaving it intellect- 
ually composed and calm as usual, — and I hastily changed 
the subject, for I had made up my mind by this time that my 
brilliant friend had, like many exceptionally gifted persons, a 
* craze' on one topic, and that topic a particularly difficult 
one to discuss, as it touched on the superhuman, and therefore 
(to my thinking) the impossible. My own temperament, 
which had, in the days of my poverty, fluctuated between 
spiritual striving and material gain, had, with my sudden 
access to fortune, rapidly hardened into the character of a 
man of the world worldly, for whom all speculations as to the 
unseen forces working in and around us, were the merest folly, 
not worth a moment's waste of thought. I should have laughed 
to scorn anyone who had then presumed to talk to me about 
the law of Eternal Justice, which with individuals as well as 
nations, works, not for a passing 'phase,' but for all time 
towards good, and not evil, — for no matter how much a man 
may strive to blind himself to the fact, he has a portion of 
the Divine with him, which if he wilfully corrupts by his 


own wickedness, he must be forced to cleanse again, and yet 
again, in the fierce flames of such remorse and such despair 
as are rightly termed the quenchless fires of Hell ! 


On the afternoon of the twenty-first of May, I went down, 
accompanied by Lucio, to Willowsmere, to be in readiness 
for the reception of the social swarm who were to flock 
thither the next day. Amiel went with us, — but I left my 
own man, Morris, behind, to take charge of my rooms in the 
' Grand' and to forward late telegrams and special messages. 
TJie weather was calm, warm and bright, — and a young moon 
showed her thin crescent in the sky as we got out at the 
country station and stepped into the open carriage awaiting 
us. The station-oflicials greeted us with servile humility, 
eyeing Lucio especially with an almost gaping air of wonder- 
ment ; the fact of his lavish expenditure in arranging with the 
railway company a service of special trains for the use of the 
morrow's guests, had no doubt excited them to a speechless 
extent of admiration as well as astonishment. AVhen we 
approached Willowsmere, and entered the beautiful drive, 
bordered with oak and beech, which led up to the house, I 
uttered an exclamation of delight at the festal decorations 
dis})layed, for the whole avenue was spanned with arches of 
flags and flowers ; garlands of blossoms being even swung 
from tree to tree, and interlacing many of the lower branches. 
The gabled porch at the entrance of the house was draped 
with crimson silk and festooned with white roses, — and as we 
alighted, the door was flung open by a smart page in brilliant 
scarlet and gold. 

*' I think," said Lucio to me as we entered, "you will 
find everything as complete as this world's resources will 
allow. The retinue of servants here are what is vulgarly 


called ' on the job' ; their payment is agreed upon, and 
they know their duties thoroughly, — they will give you no 

I could scarcely find words to express my unbounded satis- 
faction, or to thank him for the admirable taste with which 
the beautiful house had been adorned. I wandered about in 
an ecstasy of admiration, triumphing in such a visible and gor- 
geous display of what great wealth could really do. The ball- 
room had been transformed into an elegant bijou theatre, the 
stage being concealed by a curtain of thick gold-coloured silk 
on which the oft quoted lines of Shakespeare were embroidered 
in raised letters, — 

" All the world's a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players." 

Turning out of this into the drawing-room, I found it deco- 
rated entirely round with banks of roses, red and white, the 
flowers forming a huge pyramid at one end of the apartment, 
behind which, as Lucio informed me, unseen musicians would 
discourse sweet harmony. 

" I have arranged for a few * tableaux vivants' in the theatre 
to fill up a gap of time," he said carelessly. " Fashionable 
folks now-a-days get so soon tired of one amusement that it 
is necessary to provide several in order to distract the brains 
that cannot think, or discover any means of entertainment in 
themselves. As a matter of fact, people cannot even converse 
long together, because they have nothing to say. Oh, don't 
bother to go out in the grounds on a tour of inspection just 
now, — leave a few surprises for yourself as well as for your 
company tomorrow. Come and have dinner !" 

He put his arm through mine and we entered the dining- 
room. Here the table was laid out with costly fruit, flowers 
and delicacies of every description, — four men-servants in 
scarlet and gold stood silently in waiting, withAmiel, in black 
as usual, behind his master's chair. We enjoyed a sumptuous 
repast, served to perfection, and when it was finished, we 
strolled out in the grounds to smoke and talk. 


"You seem to do everything by magic, Liicio," I said, 
looking at him wonderingly. '* All these lavish decorations, — 
these servants — " 

" Money, my dear fellow, — nothing but money," he inter- 
rupted with a laugh. " Money, the devil's pass-key ! you 
can have the retinue of a king without any of a king's respon- 
sibilities, if you only choose to pay for it. It is merely a 
question of cost." 

*' And taste !" I reminded him. 

*' True, — and taste. Some rich men there are who have less 
taste than a costermonger. I know one who has the egregious 
vulgarity to call the attention of his guests to the value of his 
goods and chattels. He pointed out for my admiration one 
day, an antique and hideous china plate, the only one of that 
kind in the world, and told me it was worth a thousand guineas. 
* Break it,' I said coolly, * You will then have the satisfaction 
of knowing you have destroyed a thousand guineas' worth of 
undesirable ugliness.' You should have seen his face ! He 
showed me no more airios P ' 

I laughed, and we walked slowly up and down for a few 
minutes in silence. Presently I became aware that my com- 
panion was looking at me intently, and I turned my head 
quickly to meet his eyes. He smiled. 

" I was just then thinking," he said, " what you would have 
done with your life if you had not inherited this fortune, and 
if, — if /had not come your way?" 

"I should have starved, no doubt," I responded — " Died 
like a rat in a hole, — of want and wretchedness." 

" I rather doubt that, " he said meditatively. "It is just 
possible you might have become a great writer." 

"Why do you say that now?" I asked. 

"Because I have been reading your book. There are fine 
ideas in it, — ideas that might, had they been the result of sin- 
cere conviction, have reached the public in time, because they 
were sane and healthy. The public will never put up for long 
with corrupt ' fads' and artificial * crazes.' Now, you write of 


God, — yet according to your own statement, you did not be- 
lieve in God even when you wrote the words that imply His 
existence, — and that Avas long before I met you. Therefore 
the book was tiot the result of sincere conviction, — and that's 
the key-note of your failure to reach the large audience you 
desired. Each reader can see you do not believe what you 
write, — the trumpet of lasting fame never sounds triumph for 
an author of that calibre. ' ' 

"Don't let us talk about it for Heaven's sake!" I said 
irritably. "I know my work lacks something, — and that 
something may be what you say, or it may not, — I do not 
want to think about it. Let it perish, as it assuredly will ; 
perhaps in the future I may do something better." 

He was silent, —and finishing his cigar, threw the end away 
in the grass where it burned like a dull red coal. 

" I must turn in," he then observed. '' I have a few more 
directions to give to the servants for tomorrow. I shall go to 
my room as soon as I have done, — so I'll say good-night." 

'' But surely you are taking too much personal trouble," I 
said. '' Can't I help in any way?" 

'*No, you can't," he answered smiling. *'When I under- 
take to do anything I like to do it in my own fashion, or not 
at all. Sleep well, and rise early." 

He nodded, and sauntered slowly away over the dewy grass. 
I watched his dark tall figure receding till he had entered the 
house ; then, lighting a fresh cigar I wandered on alone through 
the grounds, noting here and there flowery arbours and dainty 
silk pavilions erected in picturesque nooks and corners for the 
morrow. I looked up at the sky; it was clear and bright, — 
there would be no rain. Presently I opened the wicket-gate 
that led into the outer by-road, and walking on slowly, almost 
unconsciously, I found myself in a few minutes opposite ' Lily 
Cottage.' Approaching the gate I looked in, — the pretty old 
house was dark, silent and deserted. I knew Mavis Clare was 
away, — and it was not strange that the aspect of her home- 
nest emphasized the fact of her absence. A cluster of climb- 


ing roses hanging from the wall, looked as if they were listen- 
ing for the first sound of her returning footsteps ; across the 
green breadth of the lawn where I had seen her playing with 
her dogs, a tall sheaf of St John's lilies stood up white against 
the sky, their pure hearts opened to the star-light and the 
breeze. The scent of honey-suckle and sweet-brier filled the 
air with delicate suggestions, — and as I leaned over the low 
fence, gazing vaguely at the long shadows of the trees on the 
grass, a nightingale began to sing. The sweet yet dolorous 
warble of the ' little brown lover of the moon,' palpitated on 
the silence in silver-toned drops of melody ; and I listened, 
till my eyes smarted with a sudden moisture as of tears. 
Strangely enough, I never thought of my betrothed bride 
Sibyl then, as surely, by all the precedents of passion, I should 
have done at such a moment of dreamful ecstasy. It was 
another woman's face that floated before my memory ; — a face 
not beautiful, — but merely sweet, and made radiant by the 
light of two tender, wistful, wonderfully innocent eyes, — a face 
like that of some new ' Daphne' with the mystic laurel spring- 
ing from her brows. The nightingale sang on and on, — the 
tall lilies swayed in the faint wind as though nodding wise 
approval of the bird's wild music, — and, gathering one brier- 
rose from the hedge, I turned away with a curious heaviness 
at my heart, — a trouble I could not analyze or account for. I 
explained my feeling partly to myself as one of regret that I 
had ever taken up my pen to assault, with sneer and flippant 
jest, the gentle and brilliantly endowed owner of this little 
home where peace and pure content dwelt happily in student- 
like seclusion ; — but this was not all. There was something 
else in my mind, — something inexplicable and sad, — which 
then I had no skill to define. I know now what it was, — but 
the knowledge comes too late. 

Returning to my own domains, I saw through the trees a 
vivid red light in one of the upper windows of Willowsmere. 
It twinkled like a lurid star, and I guided my steps by its 
brilliancy as I made my way across the winding garden-paths 


and terraces back to the house. Entering the hall, the page 
in scarlet and gold met me, and with a respectful obeisance, 
escorted me to my room where Amiel was in waiting. 

" Has the prince retired ?" I asked him. 

"Yes, sir." 

" He has a red lamp in his window, has he not ?" 

Amiel looked deferentially meditative. Yet I fancied I saw 
him smile. 

"I think yes, — I believe he has, sir." 

I asked no more questions, but allowed him to perform his 
duties as valet in silence. 

" Good-night, sir !" he said at last, his ferret eyes fastened 
upon me with an expressionless look. 

*' Good-night !" I responded indifferently. 

He left the room with his usual cat-like stealthy tread, and 
when he had gone, I, — moved by a sudden fresh impulse of 
hatred for him, — sprang to the door and locked it. Then I 
listened, with an odd nervous breathlessness. There was not 
a sound. For fully quarter of an hour I remained with my 
attention more or less strained, expectant of I knew not what ; 
but the quiet of the house was absolutely undisturbed. With 
a sigh of relief I flung myself on the luxurious bed, — a couch 
fit for a king, draped with the richest satin elaborately em- 
broidered, — and falling soundly asleep I dreamed that I was 
poor again. Poor, — but unspeakably happy, — and hard at 
work in the old lodging, writing down thoughts which I 
knew by some divine intuition and beyond all doubt, would 
bring me the whole world's honour. Again I heard the 
sounds of the violin played by my unseen neighbour next 
door, and this time they were triumphal chords and cadences 
of joy, without one throb of sorrow. And while I wrote on 
in an ecstasy of inspiration, oblivious of poverty and pain, I 
heard, echoing through my visions, the round warble of the 
nightingale, and saw, in the far distance, an angel floating 
towards me on pinions of light, with the face of Mavis Clare ! 




The morning broke clear, with all the pure tints of a fine 
opal radiating in the cloudless sky. Never had I beheld such 
a fair scene as the woods and gardens of Willowsmere, when 
I looked upon them that day illumined by the unclouded sun- 
light of a spring half-melting into summer. My heart swelled 
with pride as I surveyed the beautiful domain I now owned, — 
and thought how happy a home it would make when Sibyl, 
matchless in her Joveliness, shared with me its charm and 

"Yes," I said half-aloud. ''Say what philosophers will, 
the possession of money does insure satisfaction and power. 
It is all very well to talk about fame, but what is fame worth, 
if, like Carlyle, one is too poor to enjoy it ! Besides, litera- 
ture no longer holds its former high prestige, — there are too 
many in the field, — too many newspaper-scribblers all be- 
lieving they are geniuses, — too many ill-educated lady-para- 
graphists and ' new' women who think they are as gifted as 
Georges Sand or Mavis Clare. With Sibyl and Willowsmere, 
I ought to be able to resign the idea of fame — literary fame — 
with a good grace." 

I knew I reasoned falsely with myself, — I knew that my 
hankering for a place among the truly great of the world was 
as strong as ever, — I knew I craved for the intellectual dis- 
tinction, force, and pride which make the Thinker a terror 
and a power in the land, and so severs a great poet or great 
romancist from the commoner throng that even kings are glad 
to do him or her honour, — but I would not allow my thoughts 
to dwell on this rapidly vanishing point of unattainable desire. 
I settled my mind to enjoy the luscious flavour of the im- 
mediate present, as a bee settles in the cup of honey-flowers, 
— and, leaving my bedroom, I went downstairs to breakfast 
with Lucio in the best and gayest of humours. 


*'Not a cloud on the day!" he said, meeting me with a 
smile, as I entered the bright morning-room, whose windows 
opened on the lawn. "The fete will be a brilliant success, 

'' Thanks to you !" I answered. '' Personally I am quite in 
the dark as to your plans, — but I believe you can do nothing 
that is not well done." 

''You honour me!" he said with a light laugh. "You 
credit me then with better qualities than the Creator ! For 
what He does, in the opinion of the present generation, is 
exceedingly ill done ! Men have taken to grumbling at Him 
instead of praising Him, — and few have any patience with or 
liking for His laws." 

I laughed. "Well, you must admit those laws are very 
arbitrary !" 

" They are. I entirely acknowledge the fact." 

We sat down to table, and were waited upon by admirably- 
trained servants who apparently had no idea of anything else 
but attendance on our needs. There was no trace of bustle 
or excitement in the household,— no sign whatever to denote 
that a great entertainment w^as about to take place that day. 
It was not until the close of our meal that I asked Lucio 
what time the musicians would arrive. He glanced at his 

"About noon I should say," he replied ; " perhaps before. 
But whatever their hour, they will all be in their places at the 
proper moment, depend upon it. The people I employ — 
both musicians and 'artistes' — know their business thoroughly 
and are aware that I stand no nonsense." A rather sinister 
smile played round his mouth as he regarded me. "None 
of your guests can arrive here till one o'clock, as that is about 
the time the special train will bring the first batch of them 
from London, — and the first ' dejeuner' will be served in the 
gardens at two. If you want to amuse yourself there's a May- 
pole being put up on the large lawn, — you'd better go and 
look at it." 


'' A May. pole !" I exclaimed. " Now that's a good idea !" 

" It used to be a good idea," he answered. " When Eng- 
lish lads and lasses had youth, innocence, health and fun in 
their composition, a dance round the May-pole hand in hand, 
did them good and did nobody harm. But now there are no 
lads and lasses, — enervated old men and women in their teens 
walk the world wearily, speculating on the uses of life, — 
probing vice, and sneering down sentiment ; and such inno- 
cent diversions as the May-pole no longer appeal to our jaded 
youth. So we have to get ' professionals' to execute the May- 
revels, — of course the dancing is better done by properly 
trained legs ; but it means nothing and is nothing, except a 
pretty spectacle." 

"And are the dancers here?" I asked, rising and going 
towards the window in some curiosity. 

"No, not yet. But the May-pole is; fully decorated. It 
faces the woods at the back of the house, — go and see if you 
like it." 

I followed his suggestion, and going in the direction indi- 
cated, I soon perceived the gaily-decked object which used 
to be the welcome signal of many a village holiday in Shake- 
speare's old-world England The pole was already set up and 
fixed in a deep socket in the ground, and a dozen or more 
men were at work, unbinding its numerous trails of blossom 
and garlands of green, tied with long streamers of vari -col- 
oured ribbon. It had a picturesque effect in the centre of 
the wide lawn bordered with grand old trees, — and approach- 
ing one of the men, I said something to him by way of 
approval and admiration. He glanced at me furtively and 
unsmilingly, but said nothing, — and I concluded from his 
dark and foreign cast of features, that he did not understand 
the English language. I noted with some wonder and slight 
vexation that all the workmen were of this same alien and 
sinister type of countenance, very much after the unattractive 
models of Amiel and the two grooms who had my racer 
* Phosphor' in charge. But I remembered what Lucio had 


told me, — namely, that all the designs for the fete were car- 
ried out by foreign experts and artists, — and after a little 
puzzled consideration, I let the matter pass from my mind. 

The morning hours flew swiftly by, and I had little time to 
examine all the festal preparations with which the gardens 
abounded, — so that I was almost as ignorant of what was in 
store for the amusement of my guests as the guests themselves. 
I had the curiosity to wait about and watch for the coming of 
the musicians and dancers, but I might as well have spared 
myself this waste of time and trouble, for I never saw them 
arrive at all. At one o'clock, both Lucio and I were ready 
to receive our company, — and at about twenty minutes past 
the hour, the first instalment of ' swagger society' was emptied 
into the grounds. Sibyl and her father were among these, — 
and I eagerly advanced to meet and greet my bride-elect as 
she alighted from the carriage that had brought her from the 
station. She looked supremely beautiful that day, and was, 
as she deserved to be, the cynosure of all eyes. I kissed her 
little gloved hand with a deeper reverence than I would have 
kissed the hand of a queen. 

''Welcome back to your old home, my Sibyl !" I said to 
her in a low voice, tenderly, at which words she paused, look- 
ing up at the red gables of the house with such wistful affection 
as filled her eyes with something like tears. She left her hand 
in mine, and allowed me to lead her towards the silken-draped, 
flower-decked porch, where Lucio waited, smiling, — and as 
she advanced, two tiny pages in pure white and silver glided 
suddenly out of some unseen hiding-place, and emptied two 
baskets of pink and white rose-leaves at her feet, thus strew- 
ing a fragrant pathway for her into the house. They vanished 
as completely and swiftly as they had appeared, — some of the 
guests uttered murmurs of admiration, while Sibyl gazed about 
her, blushing with surprise and pleasure. 

'' How charming of you, Geoffrey ! ' ' she murmured. '' What 
a poet you are to devise so pretty a greeting !" 

*'I wish I deserved your praise!" I answered, smiling at 
r 22* 


her; "but the poet in question is Prince Rimanez, — he is the 
master and ruler of to-day's revels." 

Again the rich colour flushed her cheeks, and she gave 
Lucio her hand. He bowed over it in courtly fashion, — but 
did not kiss it as he had kissed the hand of Mavis Clare. We 
passed into the house, through the drawing-room, and out 
again into the garden. Lord Elton being loud in his praise of 
the artistic manner in which his former dwelling had been 
improved and embellished. Soon the lawn was sprinkled 
with gaily attired groups of people, — and my duties as host 
began in hard earnest. I had to be greeted, complimented, 
flattered, and congratulated on my approaching marriage by 
scores of hypocrites who nearly shook my hand off in their 
enthusiasm for my wealth. Had I become suddenly poor, I 
thought grimly, not one of them would have lent me a 
sovereign ! The guests kept on arriving in shoals, and when 
there were about three or four hundred assembled, a burst of 
exquisite music sounded, and a procession of pages in scarlet 
and gold, marching two by two appeared, carrying trays full 
of the rarest flowers tied up in bouquets, which they ofl"ered 
to all the ladies present. Exclamations of delight arose on 
every side, — exclamations which were for the most part high- 
pitched and noisy, — for the ' swagger set' have long ceased to 
cultivate softness of voice or refinement of accent, — and once 
or twice the detestable slang word ' ripping' escaped from the 
lips of a few dashing dames, reputed to be ' leaders' of style. 
Repose of manner, dignity and elegance of deportment, how- 
ever, are no longer to be discovered among the present 
' racing' duchesses and gambling countesses of the bluest blue 
blood of England, so one does not expect these graces of 
distinction from them. The louder they can talk, and the 
more slang they can adopt from the language of their grooms 
and stable-boys, the more are they judged to be ' in the swim' 
and 'up to date.' I speak, of course, of the modern scions 
of aristocracy. There are a few truly ' great ladies' left, whose 
maxim is still ^noblesse oblige^' — but they are quite in the 



minority and by the younger generation are voted either ' old 
cats' or 'bores.' Many of the 'cultured' mob that now 
swarmed over my grounds, had come out of the sheerest 
vulgar curiosity to see what ' the man with five millions' could 
do in the way of entertaining, — others were anxious to get 
news, if possible, of the chances of ' Phosphor' winning the 
Derby, concerning which I was discreetly silent. But the 
bulk of the crowd wandered aimlessly about, staring imper- 
tinently or enviously at each other, and scarcely looking at 
the natural loveliness of the gardens or the woodland scenery 
around them. The brainlessness of modern society is never 
so flagrantly manifested as at a garden-party, where the rest- 
less trousered and petticoated bipeds moved vaguely to and 
fro, scarcely stopping to talk civilly or intelligently to one 
another for five minutes, most of them hovering dubiously and 
awkwardly between the refreshment-pavilion and the band- 
stand. In my domain they were deprived of this latter 
harbour of refuge, for no musicians could be seen, though 
music was heard, — beautiful wild music which came first from 
one part of the grounds and then from another, and to which 
few listened with any attention. All were, however, happily 
unanimous in their enthusiastic appreciation of the excellence 
of the food provided for them in the luxurious luncheon tents, 
of which there were twenty in number. Men ate as if they 
had never eaten in their lives before, and drank the choice 
and exquisite wines with equal greed and gusto. One never 
entirely realizes the extent to which human gourmandism can 
go till one knows a few peers, bishops and cabinet-ministers, 
and watches those dignitaries feed ad libitum. Soon the 
company was so complete that there was no longer any need 
forme to perform the fatiguing duty of 'receiving,' and I 
therefore took Sibyl in to luncheon, determining to devote 
myself to her for the rest of the day. She was in one of her 
brightest and most captivating moods, — her laughter rang out 
as sweetly joyous as that of some happy child, — s.he was even 
kind to Diana Chesney, who was also one of my guests, and 


who was plainly enjoying herself with all the verve peculiar 
to pretty American women who consider flirtation as much of 
a game as tennis. The scene was now one of great brilliancy, 
the light costumes of the women contrasting well with the 
scarlet and gold liveries of the seemingly innumerable servants 
that were now everywhere in active attendance. And, con- 
stantly through the fluttering festive crowd, from tent to tent, 
from table to table and group to group, Lucio moved, his tall 
stately figure and handsome face always conspicuous wherever 
he stood ; his rich voice thrilling the air whenever he spoke. 
His influence was irresistible, and gradually dominated the 
whole assemblage, — he roused the dull, inspired the witty, 
encouraged the timid, and brought all the conflicting elements 
of rival position, character and opinion into one uniform 
whole, which was unconsciously led by his will as easily as a 
multitude is led by a convincing orator. I did not know it, 
then, but I know now, that, metaphorically speaking, he had 
his foot on the neck of that ' society' mob, as though it were 
one prostrate man ; — that the sycophants, liars and hypocrites, 
whose utmost idea of good is wealth and luxurious living, 
bent to his secret power as reeds bend to the wind, — and that 
he did with them all whatsoever he chose, as he does to this 
very day ! God ! — if the grinning, guzzling sensual fools had 
only known what horrors were about them at the feast ! — what 
ghastly ministers to pleasurable appetite waited obediently 
upon them ! — what pallid terrors lurked behind the gorgeous 
show of vanity and pride ! But the veil was mercifully down, 
— and only to me has it since been lifted ! 

Luncheon over, the singing of mirthful voices, tuned to a 
kind of village roundelay, attracted the company, now fed to 
repletion, towards the lawn at the back of the house, and cries 
of delight were raised as the May -pole came into view, I myself 
joining in the universal applause, for I had not expected to 
see anything half so picturesque and pretty. The pole was 
surrounded by a double ring of small children, — children so 
beautiful in face and dainty in form, that they might very well 


have been taken for little fairies from some enchanted wood- 
land. The boys were clad as tiny foresters in doublets of 
green, with pink caps on their curly heads, — the girls were in 
white, with their hair flowing loosely over their shoulders, 
and wreaths of May-blossom crowning their brows. As soon 
as the guests appeared on the scene, these exquisite little 
creatures commenced their dance, each one taking a trail of 
blossom or a ribbon pendant from the May-pole, and weaving 
it with the others into no end of beautiful and fantastic de- 
signs. I looked on, as amazed and fascinated as anyone 
present, at the wonderful lightness and ease with which these 
children tripped and ran ; — their tiny twinkling feet seemed 
scarcely to touch the turf, — their faces were so lovely, their 
eyes so bright, that it was a positive enchantment to watch 
them. Each figure they executed was more intricate and 
effective than the last, and the plaudits of the spectators grew 
more and more enthusiastic, till presently came the finale, in 
which all the little green foresters climbed up the pole and 
clung there, pelting the white-robed maidens below with cow- 
slip-balls, knots of roses, bunches of violets, posies of butter- 
cups, daisies and clover, which the girl-children in their turn 
laughingly threw among the admiring guests. The air grew 
thick with flowers, and heavy with perfume, and resounded 
with song and laughter ; and Sibyl standing at my side 
clapped her hands in an ecstasy. 

''Oh, it is lovely — lovely!" she cried. ''Is this the 
prince's idea?" Then as I answered in the affirmative, she 
added, " Where, I wonder, did he find such exquisitely pretty 
little children !" 

As she spoke, Lucio himself advanced a step or two in front 
of the other spectators and made a slight peremptory sign. 
The fairy-like foresters and maidens, with extraordinary 
activity, all sprang away from the May-pole, pulling down 
the garlands with them, and winding the flowers and ribbons 
about themselves so that they looked as if they were all tied 
together in one inextricable knot ; — this done, they started off 


at a rapid run, presenting the appearance of a rolling ball of 
blossom, merry pipe-music accompanying their footsteps, till 
they had entirely disappeared among the trees. 

'*Oh, do call them back again!" entreated Sibyl, laying 
her hand coaxingly on Lucio's arm, — **I should so like to 
speak to two or three of the prettiest ! ' ' 

He looked down at her with an enigmatical smile. 

"You would do them too much honour. Lady Sibyl," he 
replied. " They are not accustomed to such condescension 
from great ladies and would not appreciate it. They are paid 
professionals, and, like many of their class, only become inso- 
lent when praised." 

At that moment Diana Chesney came running across the 
lawn, breathless. 

''I can't see them anywhere!" she declared pantingly. 
*' The dear little darlings ! I ran after them as fast as I could ; 
I wanted to kiss one of those perfectly scrumptious boys, but 
they're gone !— not a trace of them left ! It's just as if they 
had sunk into the ground ! ' ' 

Again Lucio smiled. 

*'They have their orders," he said curtly, ''and they 
know their place." 

Just then, the sun was obscured by a passing black cloud, 
and a peal of thunder rumbled over-head. Looks were turned 
to the sky, but it was quite bright and placid save for that one 
floating shadow of storm. 

'' Only summer thunder," said one of the guests. *' There 
will be no rain." 

And the crowd that had been pressed together to watch the 
* May-pole dance' began to break up in groups, and speculate 
as to what diversion might next be provided for them. I, 
watching my opportunity, drew Sibyl away. 

*' Come down by the river," I whispered, — " I must have 
you to myself for a few minutes." She yielded to my sug- 
gestion, and we walked away from the mob of our acquaint- 
ance, and entered a grove of trees leading to the banks of 


that part of the Avon which flowed through my grounds. 
Here we found ourselves quite alone, and putting my arm 
round my betrothed, I kissed her tenderly. 

*'Tell me," 1 said with a half- smile, *'do you know how 
to love yet?" 

She looked up with a passionate darkness in her eyes that 
startled me. 

" Yes, — I know !" was her unexpected answer. 

"You do!" and I stopped to gaze intently into her fair 
face. ''And how did you learn?" 

She flushed red, then grew pale, and clung to me with a 
nervous, almost feverish force. 

*'Very strangely!" she replied; *'and — quite suddenly I 
The lesson was easy, I found; — too easy! Geoffrey," — she 
paused, and fixed her eyes full on mine, — '' I will tell you how 
I learnt it, . . . but not now, . . . some other day." Here 
she broke off, and began to laugh rather forcedly. ''I will 
tell you . . . when we are married." She glanced anxiously 
about her, — then, with a sudden abandonment of her usual 
reserve and pride, threw herself into my arms and kissed my 
lips with such ardour as made my senses reel. 

''Sibyl — Sibyl!" I murmured, holding her close to my 
heart. " Oh, my darling, — you love me ! — at last you love 

" Hush ! — hush !" she said breathlessly. "You must forget 
that kiss, — it was too bold of me, — it was wrong, — I did not 
mean it, ... I ... I was thinking of something elbC. 
Geoffrey !" and her small hand clenched on mine with a sort 
of eager fierceness, — " I wish I had never learned to love ; I 
was happier before I knew !" 

A frown knitted her brows. 

"Now," she went on in the same breathless hurried way, 
" I wan^ love ! I am starving, thirsting for it ! I want to be 
drowned in it, lost m it, killed by it I Nothing else will con- 
tent me ! ' ' 

I folded her still closer in my arms. 


''Did I not say you would change, Sibyl?" I whispered. 
''Your coldness and insensibility to love was unnatural and 
could not last, — my darling, I always knew that !" 

"You always knew!" she echoed a little disdainfully. 
" Ah, but you do not know even now what has chanced to me. 
Nor shall I tell you — yet. Oh, Geoffrey!" Here she drew 
herself out of my embrace, and stooping, gathered some blue- 
bells in the grass. " See these little flowers growing so purely 
and peacefully in the shade by the Avon ! — they remind me of 
what I was, here in this very place, long ago. I was quite as 
happy, and I think as innocent as these blossoms ; I had no 
thought of evil in my nature, — and the only love I dreamed of 
was the love of the fairy prince for the fairy princess, — as 
harmless an idea as the loves of the flowers themselves. Yes ! 
— I was then all I should like to be now, — all that I am not ! ' ' 

"You are everything that is beautiful and sweet," I told 
her, admiringly, as I watched the play of retrospective and 
tender expression on her perfect face. 

" So you judge, — being a man who is perfectly satisfied with 
his own choice of a wife !" she said, with a flash of her old 
cynicism. " But I know myself better than you know me. 
You call me beautiful and sweet, — but you cannot call me 
good. I am not good. Why, the very love that now con- 
sumes me is " 

"What?" I asked her quickly, seizing her hands with the 
blue-bells in them, and gazing searchingly into her eyes, — " I 
know before you speak, that it is the passion and tenderness 
of a true woman !" 

She was silent for a moment. Then she smiled, with a 
bewitching langour. 

"If you know, then I need not tell you," she said; "so 
do not let us stay here any longer talking nonsense. ' Society' 
will shake its head over us and accuse us of 'bad form,' and 
some lady-paragraphist will write to the papers, and say, * Mr 
Tempest's conduct as a host left much to be desired, as he and 
nis bnde-elect were 'spooning' all the day.' " 


"There are no lady-paragraphists here," I said laughing, 
and encircling her dainty waist with one arm as I walked. 

'' Oh, are there not though !" she exclaimed, laughing also. 
** Why, you don't suppose you can give any sort of big enter- 
tainment without them, do you? They permeate society. Old 
Lady Maravale, for example, who is rather reduced in circum- 
stances, writes a guinea's worth of scandal a week for one of 
the papers. And she is here, — I saw her simply gorging her- 
self with chicken salad and truffles an hour ago !" Here 
pausing, and resting against my arm, she peered through the 
trees. 'There are the chimneys of ' Lily Cottage,' where the 
famous Mavis Clare lives," she said. 

** Yes, I know," I replied readily. " Rimanez and I have 
visited her. She is away just now, or she would have been 
here to-day." 

*' Do you like her ?" Sibyl queried. 

•' Very much. She is charming." 

''And . . . the prince . . . does he like her ?" 

" Well, upon my word," I answered with a smile, " I think 
he likes her more than he does most women ! He showed the 
most extraordinary deference towards her, and seemed almost 
abashed in her presence. Are you cold, Sibyl?" I added 
hastily, for she shivered suddenly and her face grew pale. 
"You had better come away from the river, — it is damp under 
these trees." 

" Yes, — let us go back to the gardens and the sunshine," she 
answered dreamily. "So your eccentric friend— the woman- 
hater — finds something to admire in Mavis Clare. She must 
be a very happy creature I think, — perfectly free, famous, and 
believing in all good things of life and humanity, if one may 
judge from her books." 

" Well, taken altogether, life isn't so very bad !" I observed 

She made no reply, and we returned to the lawns where 
afternoon tea was now being served to the guests who were 
seated in brilliant scattered groups under the trees or within 

M 23 


the silken pavilions, while the sweetest music, — and the 
strangest, if people only had ears to hear it, — both vocal and 
instrumental, was being performed by those invisible players 
and singers whose secret whereabouts was unknown to all, save 


Just as the sun began to sink, several little pages came out 
of the house, and with low salutations, distributed among the 
guests, daintily embos-ed and painted programmes of the 

* Tableaux Vivants,' prepared for their diversion in the extem- 
porized bijou theatre. Numbers of people rose at once from 
their chairs on the lawn, eager for this new spec tacle, and 
began to scramble along and hustle one another in that 
effective style of ' high breeding' so frequently exhibited at Her 
Majesty's Drawing-Rooms. I, with Sibyl, hastily preceded 
the impatient, pushing crowd, for I wished to find a good 
seat for my beautiful betrothed before the room became full 
to overflowing. The reproved, however, to be plenty of ac- 
commodation for everybody, — what space there was seemed 
capable of limitless expansion, and all the spectators were 
comfortably placed without difficulty. Soon we were all 
studying our programmes with considerable interest, for the 
titles of the ' Tableaux' were somewhat original and mystifying. 
They were eight in number, and were respectively headed, 

* Society,' 'Bravery: Ancient and Modern,' 'A Lost Angel,' 
'The Autocrat,' * A Corner of Hell,' ' Seeds of Corruption,' 
' His Latest Purchase,' and ' Faith and Materialism.* It was 
in the theatre that everyone became at last conscious of the 
weirdly beautiful character of the music that had been surging 
round them all day. Seated under one roof in more or less 
enforced silence and attention, the vague and frivolous ' so- 
ciety' throng grew hushed and passive, — the ' society smirk' 
passed off certain faces that were as trained to grin as their 


tongues were trained to lie, — the dreadful giggle of the 
unwedded man-hunter was no longer heard, and soon the 
most exaggerated fashion-plate of a woman forgot to rustle 
her gown. The passionate vibrations of a violoncello su- 
perbly played to a double harp accompaniment throbbed 
on the stillness with a beseeching depth of sound, — and 
people listened, I saw, almost breathlessly, entranced, as 
it were, against their wills, and staring as though they were 
hypnotized, in front of them at the gold curtain with its 
familiar motto — 

" All the world's a stage 
And all the men and women merely players." 

Before we had time to applaud the violoncello solo, however, 
the music changed, and the mirthful voices of violins and 
flutes rang out in a waltz of the giddiest and sweetest tune. 
At the same instant a silvery bell tinkled, and the curtain 
parted noiselessly in twain, disclosing the first tableau — 
'Society.' An exquisite female figure, arrayed in evening- 
dress of the richest and most extravagant design, stood before 
us, her hair crowned with diamonds, and her bosom blazing 
with the same lustrous gems. Her head was slightly raised, 
— her lips parted in a languid smile, — in one hand she held 
up-lifted a glass of foaming champagne, — her gold-slippered 
foot trod on an hour-glass. Behind her, catching convulsively 
at the folds of her train, crouched another woman, in rags, 
pinched and wretched, with starvation depicted in her face, — 
a dead child lay near. And, overshadowing this group, were 
two Supernatural shapes, — one in scarlet, the other in black, 
— vast and almost beyond the stature of humanity, — the scarlet 
figure represented Anarchy, and its blood-red fingers were ad- 
vanced to clutch the diamond crown from ' Society's' brow, 
— the sable-robed form was Death, and even as we looked, it 
slowly raised its steely dart in act to strike. The effect was 
weird and wonderful,— and the grim lesson the picture con- 
veyed was startling enough to make a very visible impression. 


No one spoke, — no one applauded, — but people moved rest- 
lessly and fidgeted on their seats, — and there was an audible 
sigh of relief as the curtain closed. Opening again, it dis- 
played the second tableau — 'Bravery: Ancient and Modern.' 
This was in two scenes; — the first one depicted a nobleman 
of Elizabeth's time, with rapier drawn, his foot on the pros- 
trate body of a coarse ruffian who had evidently, from the 
grouping, insulted a woman whose slight figure was dis- 
cerned shrinking timidly away from the contest. This was 
'Ancient Bravery,' — and it changed rapidly to 'Modern,' 
showing us an enervated, narrow-shouldered, pallid dandy in 
opera-coat and hat, smoking a cigarette and languidly appeal- 
ing to a bulky policeman to protect him from another young 
noodle of his own class, similarly attired, who was represented 
as sneaking round a corner in abject terror. We all recognised 
the force of the application, and were in a much better humour 
with this pictured satire than we had been at the lesson of 
'Society.' Next followed 'A Lost Angel,' in which was 
shown a great hall in the palace of a king, where there were 
numbers of brilliantly attired people, all grouped in various 
attitudes, and evidently completely absorbed in their own 
concerns, so much so as to be entirely unconscious of the 
fact that in their very midst stood a wondrous Angel, clad in 
dazzling white, with a halo round her fair hair, and a glory, 
as of the sunset, on her half drooping wings. Her eyes were 
wistful, — her face was pensive and expectant ; she seemed to 
say, "Will the world ever know that 1 am here ?'' Somehow, 
— as the curtain slowly closed again, amid loud applause, for 
the picture was extraordinarily beautiful, — I thought of Mavis 
Clare, and sighed. Sibyl looked up at me. 

"Why do you sigh?" she said. " It is a lovely fancy, — 
but the symbol is wasted in the present audience, — no one 
with education believes in Angels now-a-days." 

" True !" I assented ; yet there was a heaviness at my heart, 
for her words reminded me of what I would rather have for- 
gotten, — namely, her own admitted lack of all religious faith. 


'The Autocrat,' was the next tableau, and represented an 
Emperor enthroned. At his footstool knelt a piteous crowd 
of the starving and oppressed, holding up their lean hands to 
him, clasped in anguished petition, but he looked away from 
them as though he saw them not. His head was turned to 
listen to the side-whisper of one who seemed, by the courtly 
bend and flattering smile, to be his adviser and confidant, — 
yet that very confidant held secreted behind his back a drawn 
dagger, ready to strike his sovereign to the heart. '' Russia !" 
whispered one or two of the company, as the scene was ob- 
scured ; but the scarcely-breathed suggestion quickly passed 
into a murmur of amazement and awe as the curtain parted 
again to disclose 'A Corner of Hell.' This tableau was in- 
deed original, and quite unlike what might have been imagined 
as the conventional treatment of such a subject. What we 
saw was a black and hollow cavern, glittering alternately with 
the flashings of ice and fire, — huge icicles drooped from above, 
and pale flames leaped stealthily into view from below, and 
within the dark embrasure the shadowy form of a man was 
seated, counting out gold, or what seemed to be gold. Yet as 
coin after coin slipped through his ghostly fingers, each one 
was seen to change to fire, — and the lesson thus pictured was 
easily read. The lost soul had made its own torture, and was 
still at work intensifying and increasing its own fiery agony. 
Much as this scene was admired for its Rembrandt effect of 
light and shade, I personally was glad when it was curtained 
from view ; there was something in the dreadful face of the 
doomed sinner that reminded me forcibly and unpleasantly of 
those ghastly Three I had seen in my horrid vision on the 
night of Viscount Lynton's suicide. ' Seeds of Corruption' 
was the next picture, and showed us a young and beautiful 
girl in her early teens, lying on a luxurious couch en deshabille^ 
with a novel in her hand, of which the title was plainly seen 
by all — a novel well known to everyone present, and the 
work of a much-praised living author. Round her, on the 
floor, and cast carelessly on a chair at her side, were other 



novels of the same 'sexual' type, — all their titles turned 
towards us, and the names of their authors equally made 

'' What a daring idea !" said a lady in the seat immediately 
behind me. " I wonder if any of those authors are present !" 

" If they are, they won't mind !" replied the man next to her 
with a smothered laugh. " Those sort of writers would merely 
take it as a first-class advertisement !" 

Sibyl looked at the tableau with a pale face and wistful eyes. 

" That is a /me picture !" she said under her breath. 
" Geoffrey, it is painfully true !" 

I made no answer, — I thought I knew to what she alluded ; 
but alas ! — I did not know how deeply the ' seeds of corrup- 
tion' had been sown in her own nature, or what a harvest 
they would bring forth. The curtain closed, — to open again 
almost immediately on 'His Latest Purchase.' Here we 
were shown the interior of a luxurious modern drawing-room, 
where about eight or ten men were assembled, in fashionable 
evening-dress. They had evidently just risen from a card- 
table, and one of them, a dissipated looking brute, with a 
wicked smile of mingled satire and triumph on his face, was 
pointing to his 'purchase,' — a beautiful woman. She was 
clad in glistening white like a bride, — but she was bound, as 
prisoners are bound, to an upright column, on w^hich the 
grinning head of a marble Silenus leered above her. Her 
hands were tied tightly together, — with chains of diamonds ; 
her waist was bound, — with thick ropes of pearls; a wide 
collar of rubies encircled her throat ; and from bosom to feet 
she was netted about and tied, — with strings of gold and 
gems. Her head was flung back defiantly with an assumption 
of pride and scorn, — her eyes alone expressed shame, self- 
contempt and despair at her bondage. The man who owned 
this white slave was represented, by his attitude, as cata- 
loguing and appraising her ' points' for the approval and ap- 
plause of his comrades, whose faces variously and powerfully 
expressed the different emotions of lust, cruelty, envy, cal- 


lousness, contempt, and selfishness, more admirably than the 
most gifted painter could imagine. 

**A capital type of most fashionable marriages!" I heard 
someone say. 

" Rather I" another voice replied. '' The orthodox ' happy 
couple' to the life !" 

I glanced at Sibyl. She looked pale, — but smiled as she 
met my questioning eyes. A sense of c(^nsolation crept 
warmly about my heart as I remembered that now, she had, 
as she told me, 'learnt to love,' and that therefore her mar- 
riage with me was no longer a question of material advantage 
alone. She was not my 'purchase,' — she was my love, my 
saint, my queen ! — or so I chose to think, in my foolishness 
and vanity. 

The last tableau of all was now to come, — ' Faith and 
Materialism,' — and it proved to be the most startling of the 
series. The auditorium was gradually darkened, and the 
dividing curtain disclosed a ravishingly beautiful scene by the 
sea-shore. A full moon cast its tranquil glory over the smooth 
waters, and, rising on rainbow-wings from earth towards the 
skies, one of the loveliest creatures ever dreamed of by poet 
or painter, floated angel-like upward, her hands holding a 
cluster of lilies clasped to her breast, — her lustrous eyes full of 
divine joy, hope, and love. Exquisite music was heard, — soft 
voices sang in the distance a chorale of rejoicing ; — heaven 
and earth, sea and air, — all seemed to support the aspiring 
Spirit as she soared higher and higher, in ever-deepening 
rapture, when, — as we all watched that aerial flying form with 
a sense of the keenest delight and satisfaction, — a sudden crash 
of thunder sounded, — the scene grew dark, — and there was a 
distant roaring of angry waters. The light of the moon was 
eclipsed, — the music ceased ; a faint lurid glow of red shone 
at first dimly, then more vividly, — and ' Materialism' declared 
itself, — a human skeleton ! — bleached white and grinning 
ghastly mirth upon us all ! While we yet looked, the skeleton 
itself dropped to pieces, and one long twining worm lifted its 


slimy length from the wreck of bones, another working its 
way through the eye-holes of the skull. Murmurs of genuine 
horror were heard in the auditorium, — people on all sides rose 
from their seats, — one man in particular, a distinguished pro- 
fessor of science, pushed past me to get out, muttering crossly, 
" This may be very amusing to some of you, but to me, it is 
disgusting ! ' ' 

" Like your own theories, my dear Professor !" said a rich 
laughing voice, as Lucio met him on his way, and the bijou 
theatre was again flooded with cheerful light. "They are 

amusing to some, and disgusting to others ! Pardon me ! 

I speak of course in jest ! But I designed that tableau specially 
in your honour ! ' ' 

" Oh, you did, did you?" growled the Professor. " Well, 
I didn't appreciate it." 

"Yet you should have done, for it is quite scientifically 
correct," declared Lucio laughing still. "Faith, with the 
wings, whom you saw joyously flying towards an impossible 
heaven, is nof scientifically correct, — have you not told us so ? 
— but the skeleton and the worms were quite of your a//^ / 
No materialist can deny the correctness of that ' complexion 
to which we all must come at last.' Positively, some of the 
ladies look quite pale ! How droll it is, that while everybody 
(to be fashionable, and in favour with the press) must accept 
Materialism as the only creed, they should invariably become 
affrighted, or let us say offended, at the natural end of the 
body, as completed by material agencies !" 

" Well, it was not a pleasant subject, that last tableau," said 
Lord Elton, as he came out of the theatre with Diana Chesney 
hanging confidingly on his arm. " You cannot say it was 

" It was, — for the worms !" replied Lucio gaily. — " Come, 
Miss Chesney, and you. Tempest, come along with Lady Sibyl, 
— let us go out in the grounds again and see my will-o'-the- 
wisps lighting up." 

Fresh curiosity was excited by this remark; the people 


quickly threw off the gruesome and tragic impression made 
by the strange ' tableaux' just witnessed, and poured out of 
the house into the gardens chattering and laughing more 
noisily than ever. It was just dusk, and as we reached the 
open lawn we saw an extraordinary number of small boys, clad 
in brown, running about with will-o'-the-wisp lanterns. Their 
movements were swift and perfectly noiseless, — they leaped, 
jumped and twirled like little gnomes over flower-beds, under 
shrubberies, and along the edges of paths and terraces, many 
of them climbing trees with the rapidity and agility of 
monkeys, and wherever they went they left behind them a 
trail of brilliant light. Soon, by their efforts, all the grounds 
were illuminated with a magnificence that could not have been 
equalled even by the historic fetes at Versailles, — tall oaks and 
cedars were transformed to pyramids of fire-blossoms, — every 
branch was loaded with coloured lamps in the shape of stars, — 
rockets hissed up into the clear space showering down bouquets, 
wreaths and ribbons of flame, — lines of red and azure ran 
glowingly along the grass-borders, and, amid the enthusiastic 
applause of the assembled spectators, eight huge fire fountains 
of all colours sprang up in various corners of the garden, while 
an enormous golden balloon, dazzlingly luminous, ascended 
slowly into the air and remained poised above us, sending from 
its glittering car hundreds of gem-like birds and butterflies on 
fiery wings, that circled round and round for a moment and 
then vanished. While we were yet loudly clapping the splen- 
did effect of this sky-spectacle, a troop of beautiful girl-dancers 
in white came running across the grass, waving long silvery 
wands that were tipped with electric stars, and to the sound of 
strange tinkling music, seemingly played in the distance on 
glass bells, they commenced a fantastic dance of the wildest 
yet most graceful character. Every shade of opaline colour 
fell upon their swaying figures from some invisible agency as 
they tripped and whirled, — and each time they waved their 
wands, ribbons and flags of fire were unrolled and tossed high 
in air, where they gyrated for a long time like moving hiero- 



glyphs. The scene was now so startling, so fairy like and 
wonderful, that we were well-nigh struck speechless with 
astonishment ; too fascinated and absorbed even to applaud, 
we had no conception how time went, or how rapidly the 
night descended, till all at once, without the least warning, an 
appalling crash of thunder burst immediately above our heads, 
and a jagged fork of lightning tore the hmiinous fire-balloon 
to shreds. Two or three women began to scream, — whereupon 
Lucio advanced from the throng of spectators and stood in 
full view of all, holding up his hand. 

** Stage thunder, I assure you !" he said playfully, in a clear, 
somewhat scornful voice. '' It comes and goes at my bidding. 
Quite a part of the game, believe me ! — these sort of things 
are only toys for children. Again — again, ye petty elements !" 
he cried, laughing, and lifting his handsome face and flashing 
eyes to the dark heavens, — '' roar your best and loudest ! — 
roar, I say ! ' ' 

Such a terrific boom and clatter answered him as baffled 
all description, — it was as if a mountain of rock had fallen 
into ruins, — but having been assured that the deafening noise 
was 'stage thunder' merely, the spectators were no longer 
alarmed, and many of them expressed their opinion that it was 
* wonderfully well done.' After this, there gradually appeared 
against the sky a broad blaze of red light like the reflection of 
some great prairie fire, — it streamed apparently upward from 
the ground, bathing us all where we stood, in its blood-like 
glow. The white-robed dancing girls waltzed on and on, their 
arms entwined, their lovely faces irradiated by the lurid flame, 
while above them now flew creatures with black wings, bats 
and owls and great night moths that flapped and fluttered 
about for all the world as if they were truly alive and not mere 
'stage properties.' Another flash of lightning, — and one 
more booming thud of thunder, — and lo ! — the undisturbed 
and fragrapt night was about us, clear, dewy and calm, — the 
young moon smiled pensively in a cloudless heaven, — all the 
dancing-girls had vanished, — the crimson glow had changed 


to a pure silvery radiance, and an array of pretty pages, in 
eighteenth-century costumes of pale pink and blue, stood be- 
fore us with lighted flaming torches, making a long triumphal 
avenue down which Lucio invited us to pass. 

''On, on, fair ladies and gallant gentlemen!" he cried. 
*' This extemporized path of light leads, — not to Heaven — 
no ! that were far too dull an ending ! — but to supper ! On ! 
— follow your leader !" 

Every eye was turned on his fine figure and striking coun- 
tenance, as with one hand he beckoned the guests, — between 
the double line of lit torches he stood, a picture for a painter, 
with those dark eyes of his alit with such strange mirth as 
could not be defined, and the sweet, half cruel, wonderfully 
attractive smile playing upon his lips ; — and with one accord 
the whole company trooped pell-mell after him, shouting their 
applause and delight. Who could resist him ! — not one in 
that assemblage at least; — there are few 'saints' in society! 
As I went with the rest, I felt as though I were in some 
gorgeous dream, — my senses were all in a whirl, — I was giddy 
with excitement and could not stop to think, or to analyze the 
emotions by which I was governed. Had I possessed the 
force or the will to pause and consider, I might possibly have 
come to the conclusion that there was something altogether 
beyond the ordinary power of man displayed in the successive 
wonders of this brilliant ' gala' ; but I was, like all the rest of 
society, bent merely on the pleasure of the moment, regardless 
of how it was procured, what it cost me, or how it affected 
others. How many I see and know to-day among the wor- 
shippers of fashion and frivolity who are acting precisely as I 
acted then ! Indifferent to the welfare of everyone save 
themselves, grudging every penny that is not spent on their 
own advantage or amusement, and too callous to even listen to 
the sorrows or difficulties or joys of others when these do not 
in some way, near or remote, touch their own interests, they 
waste their time day after day in selfish trifling, wilfully blind 
and unconscious to the fact that they are building up their own 


fate in the future, — that future which will prove all the more a 
terrible Reality in proportion to the extent of our presumption 
in daring to doubt its truth. 

More than four hundred guests sat down to supper in the 
largest pavilion, — a supper served in the most costly manner, 
and furnished with luxuries that represented the utmost pitch 
of extravagance. I ate and drank, with Sibyl at my side, 
hardly knowing what I said or did in the whirling excitement 
of the hour. The opening of champagne bottles, the clink of 
glasses, the clatter of plates, the loud hum of talk interspersed 
with monkey-like squeals or goat-like whinnies of laughter, 
over-ridden at intervals by the blare of trumpet-music and 
drums, — all these sounds were as so much noise of rushing 
waters in my ears, and I often found myself growing ab- 
stracted, and in a manner confused by the din. I did not 
say much to Sibyl, — one cannot very well whisper sentimental 
nothings in the ear of one's betrothed when she is eating 
ortolans and truffles. Presently, amid all the hubbub, a deep 
bell struck twelve times, and Lucio stood up at the end of one 
of the long tables, a full glass of foaming champagne in his 
hand — 

*' Ladies and gentlemen !" 

There was a sudden silence. 

*' Ladies and gentlemen!" he repeated, his brilliant eyes 
flashing derisively, I thought, over the whole well-fed com- 
pany ; *' midnight has struck and the best of friends must 
part ! But before we do so, let us not forget that we have 
met here to wish all happiness to our host, Mr Geoffrey Tem- 
pest, and his bride-elect, the Lady Sibyl Elton." Here there 
was vociferous applause. *' It is said," continued Lucio, " by 
the makers of dull maxims, that ' Fortune never comes with 
both hands full,' — but in this case the adage is proved false 
and put to shame, for our friend has not only secured the 
pleasures of wealth, but the treasures of love and beauty com- 
bined. Limitless cash is good, but limitless love is better ; 
and both these choice gifts have been bestowed on the be- 


trothed pair whom to-day we honour. I will ask you to give 
them a hearty round of cheering, — and then it must be good- 
night indeed, though not farewell, for with the toast of the 
bride and bridegroom-elect, I shall also drink to the time, — 
not far distant perhaps, — when I shall see some of you, if not 
all of you again, and enjoy even more of your charming com- 
pany than I have done to-day ! ' ' 

He ceased amid a perfect hurricane of applause, — and then 
everyone rose and turned towards the table where I sat with 
Sibyl, and naming our names aloud, drank wine, the men 
joining in hearty shouts of " Hip, hip, hip hurrah !" Yet, — 
as I bowed repeatedly in response to the storm of cheering, 
and while Sibyl smiled and bent her graceful head to right 
and left, my heart sank suddenly with a sense of fear. Was it 
my fancy — or did I hear peals of wild laughter circling round 
the brilliant pavilion and echoing away, far away into dis- 
tance? I listened, glass in hand. ''Hip, hip, hip hurrah !" 
shouted my guests with gusto. "Ha — ha — ! ha — ha!" 
seemed shrieked and yelled in my ears from the outer air. 
Struggling against this delusion, I got up and returned thanks 
for myself and my future bride in a few brief words which 
were received with fresh salvos of applause, — and then we all 
became aware that Lucio had sprung up again in his place 
and was standing high above us all with one foot on the table 
and the other on the chair, confronting us with a fresh glass 
of wine in his hand, filled to the brim. What a face he had 
at that moment ! — what a smile ! 

''The parting cup, my friends !" he exclaimed. ''To our 
next merry meeting !" 

With plaudits and laughter the guests eagerly and noisily 
responded, — and as they drank, the pavilion was flooded by 
a deep crimson illumination as of fire ! Every face looked 
blood-red, — every jewel on every woman flashed like a living 
flame ! — for one brief instant only, — then it was gone ; and 
there followed a general stampede of the company, — every- 
body hurrying as fast as they could into the carriages that 



waited in long lines to take them to the station, the last two 
'special' trains to London being at one a.m. and one-thirty. 
I bade Sibyl and her father a hurried good-night. Diana 
Chesney went in the same carriage with them, full of ecstatic 
thanks and praise to me for the splendours of the day, which 
she described in her own fashion as " knowing how to do it." 
And then the departing crowd of vehicles began to thunder 
down the avenue. As they went, an arch of light suddenly 
spanned Willowsmere Court from end to end of its red gables, 
blazing with all the colours of the rainbow, in the middle of 
which appeared letters of pale blue and gold, forming what 
I had hitherto considered as a funereal device — 

Sic transit gloria mundi ! Vale ! 

But, after all, it was as fairly applicable to the ephemeral 
splendours of a fete as it was to the more lasting marble 
solemnity of a sepulchre, and I thought little or nothing 
about it. So perfect were all the arrangements, and so ad- 
mirably were the servants trained, that the guests were not 
long in departing, and the grounds were soon not only 
empty but dark. Not a vestige of the splendid illumina- 
tions was left anywhere, — and I entered the house fatigued 
and with a dull sense of bewilderment and fear on me which 
I could not explain. I found Lucio alone in the smoking- 
room at the further end of the oak-panelled hall, a small 
cosily curtained apartment with a deep bay window which 
opened directly on to the lawn. He was standing in this 
embrasure with his back to me, but he turned swiftly round 
as he heard my steps and confronted me with such a wild, 
white, tortured face, that I recoiled from him, startled. 

"Lucio, you are ill!" I exclaimed; ''you have done too 
much to-day." 

" Perhaps I have !" he answered in a hoarse unsteady voice, 
and I saw a strong shudder convulse him as he spoke ; then, 
gathering himself together as it were by an effort, he forced 
a smile, — *' Don't be alarmed, my friend! — it is nothing, — 


nothing but the twinge of an old deep-seated malady, — a 
troublesome disease that is rare among men, and hopelessly- 

''What is it?" I asked anxiously, for his death like pallor 
alarmed me. He looked at me fixedly, his eyes dilating and 
darkening, and his hand fell with a heavy pressure on my 

"A very strange illness!" he said, in the same jarring 
accents. " Remorse ! Have you never heard of it, Geoffrey ? 
Neither medicine nor surgery are of any avail, — it is ' the 
worm that dieth not, and the flame that cannot be quenched.' 
Tut ! — let us not talk of it, — no one can cure me, — no one 
will ! I am past hope. ' ' 

'' But remorse — if you have it, and I cannot possibly 
imagine why, for you have surely nothing to regret — is not a 
physical ailment !" I said wonderingly. 

"And physical ailments are the only ones worth troubling 
about, you think?" he queried, still smiling that strained and 
haggard smile. *' The body is our chief care, — we cosset it, 
and make much of it, feed it and pamper it, and guard it 
from so much as a pin-prick of pain if we can, — and thus 
we flatter ourselves that all is' well, — all must be well! Yet 
it is but a clay chrysalis, bound to split and crumble with the 
growth of the moth-soul within, — the moth that flies with 
blind instinctiveness straight into the Unknown and is daz- 
zled by excess of light ! Look out here," he went on with 
an abrupt and softer change of tone. ''Look out at the 
dreamful shadowy beauty of your gardens now ! The flowers 
are asleep, — the trees are surely glad to be disburdened of 
all the gaudy artificial lamps that lately hung upon their 
branches, — there is the young moon pillowing her chin on 
the edge of a little cloud and sinking to sleep in the west, — 
a moment ago there was a late nightingale awake and singing. 
You can feel the breath of the roses from the trellis yonder ! 
All this is Nature's work, — and how much fairer and sweeter 
it is now than when the lights were ablaze and the blare of 


band-music startled the small birds in their downy nests ! 
Yet 'society' would not appreciate this cool dusk, this happy 
solitude, — * society' prefers a false glare to all true radiance. 
And what is worse, it tries to make true things take a second 
place as adjuncts to sham ones, — and there comes in the mis- 

"It is just like you to run down }our own indefatigable 
labours in the splendid successes of the day," I said, laugh- 
ing. '' You may call it a ' false glare' if you like, but it has 
been a most magnificent spectacle, — and certainly in the way 
of entertainments it will never be equalled or excelled." 

"It will make you more talked about than even your 
'boomed' book could do !" said Lucio, eyeing me narrowly. 

" Not the least doubt of that !" I replied. " Society pre- 
fers food and amusement to any literature, — even the greatest. 
By-the-by, where are all the 'artistes,' — the musicians and 


" Gone ! " I echoed amazedly. " Already ! Good heavens ! 
have they had supper?" 

" They have had everything they want, even to their pay," 
said Lucio, a trifle impatiently. "Did I not tell you, Geof- 
frey, that when I undertake to do anything I do it thoroughly 
or not at all?" 

I looked at him, — he smiled, but his eyes were sombre and 

"All right !" I responded carelessly, not wishing to offend 
him. " Have it your own way ! But, upon my word, to me 
it is all like devil's magic !" 

"What is?" he asked imperturbably. 

"Everything! — the dancers, the number of servants and 
pages — why, there must have been two or three hundred of 
them, — those wonderful 'tableaux,' the illuminations, the 
supper, — everything, I tell you ! — and the most astonishing 
part of it now is that all these people should have cleared out 
so soon !" 


''Well, if you elect to call money devil's magic, you are 
right," said Lucio. 

*'But surely in some cases not even money could procure 
such perfection of detail," I began. 

''Money can procure anything!" he interrupted, a thrill 
of passion vibrating in his rich voice, — " I told you that long 
ago. It is a hook for the devil himself. Not that the devil 
could be supposed to care about world's cash personally, but 
he generally conceives a liking for the company of the man 
who possesses it ; — possibly he knows what that man will do 
with it. I speak metaphorically of course, — but no meta- 
phor can exaggerate the power of money. Trust no man 
or woman's virtue till you have tried to purchase it with a 
round sum in hard cash ! Money, my excellent Geoffrey, 
has done everything for you, — remember that ! — you have 
done nothing for yourself." 

" That's not a very kind speech," I said somewhat vexedly. 

"No? And why? Because it's true? I notice most 
people complain of * unkindness' when they are told a truth. 
It is true, and I see no unkindness in it. You've done noth- 
ing for yourself, and you're not expected to do anything — 
except" — and he laughed — "except just now to get to bed, 
and dream of the enchanting Sibyl !" 

" I confess I am tired," I said, and an unconscious sigh 
escaped me. "And you?" 

His gaze rested broodingly on the outer landscape. 

" I also am tired," he responded slowly. " But I never get 
away from my fatigue, for I am tired of myself. And I 
always rest badly. Good-night !" 

"Good-night!" I answered, and then paused, looking at 
him. He returned my look with interest. 

"Well?" he asked expressively. 

I forced a smile. 

" Well !" I echoed — " I do not know what I should say, — 
except — that I wish I knew you as you are. I feel that you 
were right in telling me once that you are not what you seem." 



He still kept his eyes fixed upon me. 

"As you have expressed the wish," he said slowly, ''I 
promise you, you shall know me as I am, some day. It may 
be well for you to know, — for the sake of others who may 
seek to cultivate my company." 

I moved away to leave the room. 

'' Thanks for all the trouble you have taken to-day," I said 
in a lighter tone; '' though I shall never be able to express 
my full gratitude in words." 

*'If you want to thank anybody, thank God that you have 
lived through it !" he replied. 

''Why?" I asked, astonished. 

"Why? Because life hangs on a thread, — a society crush 
is the very acme of boredom and exhaustion, — and that we 
escape with our lives from a general guzzle and giggle is 
matter for thanksgiving, — that's all ! And God gets so few 
thanks as a rule, that you may surely spare Him a brief one 
for to-day's satisfactory ending." 

I laughed, seeing no meaning in his words beyond the usual 
satire he affected. I found Amiel, waiting for me in my bed- 
room, but I dismissed him abruptly, hating the look of his 
crafty and sullen face, and saying I needed no attendance. 
Thoroughly fatigued, I was soon in bed and asleep, — and the 
terrific agencies that had produced the splendours of the bril- 
liant festival at which I had figured as host were not revealed 
to me by so much as a warning dream ! 


A FEW days after the entertainment at Willowsmere, and 
before the society papers had done talking about the magnifi- 
cence and luxury displayed on that occasion, I woke up one 
morning, like the great poet Byron, " to find myself famous." 
Not for any intellectual achievement, — not for any unex- 


pected deed ot heroism, — not for any resolved or noble atti- 
tude in society or politics, — no ! — I owed my fame merely to 
a quadruped ; — ' Phosphor' won the Derby. It was about 
a neck-and-neck contest between my racer and that of the 
Prime Minister, and for a second or so the result seemed 
doubtful, — but as the two jockeys neared the goal, Amiel, 
whose thin wiry figure, clad in the brightest of bright scarlet 
silk, stuck to his horse as though he were a part of it, put 
* Phosphor' to a pace he had never yet exhibited, appearing 
to skim along the ground at literally flying speed, — the upshot 
being that he scored a triumphant victory, reaching the wun- 
ning-post a couple of yards or more ahead of his rival. Accla- 
mations rent the air at the vigour displayed in the 'finibh,' 
and I became the hero of the day, — the darling of the popu- 
lace. I was somewhat amused at the Premier's discomfiture, 
— he took his beating rather badly. He did not know me, 
nor I him. I was not of his politics, and I did not care a jot 
for his feelings one way or the other, but I was gratified in a 
certain satirical sense, to find myself suddenly acknowledged 
as a greater man than he, because I was the owner of the 
Derby- winner ! Before I well knew where I was, I found 
myself being presented to the Prince of Wales, who shook 
hands with me and congratulated me ; — all the biggest aristo- 
crats in England were willing and eager to be introduced to 
me ;— and inwardly I laughed at this exhibition of taste and 
culture on the part of ' the gentlemen of England that live at 
home at ease.' They crowded round ' Phosphor,' whose wild 
eye warned strangers against taking liberties with him, but 
who seemed not a whit the worse for his exertions, and who 
apparently was quite ready to run the race over again with 
equal pleasure and success. Amiel 's dark sly face and cruel 
ferret eyes were evidently not attractive to the majority of the 
gentlemen of the turf, though his answers to all the queries put 
to him were admirably ready, respectful and not without wit. 
But to me the whole sum and substance of the occasion was 
the fact that I, Geoffrey Tempest, once struggling author,^now 


millionaire, was simply by virtue of my ownership of the 
Derby-winner, * famous' at last !— or what society considers 
famous, — that fame that secures for a man the attention of 
'the nobility and gentry,' to quote from tradesmen's adver- 
tisements, — and also obtains the persistent adulation and 
shameless pursuit of all the demi-mondaines who want jewels 
and horses and yachts presented to them in exchange for a few 
tainted kisses from their carmined lips. Under the shower of 
compliments I received I stood, apparently delighted,— smil- 
ing, affable and courteous, — entering into the spirit of the 
occasion, and shaking hands with my Lord That, and Sir 
Something Nobody, and His Serene Highness the Grand Duke 
So-and-So of Beer-Land, and His other Serene Lowness of 
Small-Principality, — but in my secret soul I scorned these 
people with their social humbug and hypocrisy, — scorned them 
with such a deadly scorn as almost amazed myself. When 
presently I walked off the course with Lucio, who as usual 
seemed to know and to be friends with everybody, he spoke 
in accents that were far more grave and gentle than I had ever 
heard him use before. 

*' With all your egotism, Geoffrey, there is something forci- 
ble and noble in your nature, — something which rises up in 
bold revolt against falsehood and sham. Why, in Heaven's 
name, do you not give it way?" 

I looked at him amazed, and laughed. 

" Give it way ? What do you mean ? Would you have me 
tell humbugs that I know them as such ? and liars that I dis- 
cern their lies? My dear fellow, society would become too 
hot to hold me !" 

'' It could not be hotter — or colder — than hell, if you be- 
lieved in hell, which you do not," he rejoined, in the same 
quiet voice. " But I did not assume that you should say 
these things straight out and bluntly to give offence. An 
affronting candour is not nobleness, — it is merely coarse. To 
act nobly is better than to speak." 

"And what would you have me do?" I asked curiously. 


He was silent for a moment, and seemed to be earnestly, 
almost painfully considering, — then he answered — 

** My advice will seem to you singular, Geoffrey, but if you 
want it, here it is. Give, as I said, the noble, and what the 
world would call the quixotic part of your nature full way, — 
do not sacrifice your higher sense of what is right and just 
for the sake of pandering to anyone's power or influence, — 
and — say farewell to me ! I am no use to you, save to 
humour your varying fancies, and introduce you to those 
great — or small — personages you wish to know for your own 
convenience or advantage ; believe me, it would be much 
better for you and much more consoling at the inevitable 
hour of death, if you were to let all this false and frivolous 
nonsense go, and me with it ! Leave society to its own fool's 
whirligig of distracted follies, put Royalty in its true place, 
and show it that all its pomp, arrogance and glitter are worth- 
less, and itself a nothing compared to the upright standing 
of a brave soul in an honest man, and, as Christ said to the 
rich ruler, ' Sell half that thou hast and give to the poor.' " 

I was silent for a minute or so out of sheer surprise, while 
he watched me closely, his face pale and expectant. A 
curious shock of something like compunction startled my con- 
science, and for a brief space I was moved to a vague re- 
gret, — regret that with all the enormous capability I pos- 
sessed of doing good to numbers of my fellow-creatures with 
the vast wealth I owned, I had not attained to any higher 
moral attitude than that represented by the frivolous folk who 
make up what is called the ' Upper Ten' of society. I took 
the same egotistical pleasure in myself and my own doings as 
any of them, and I was to the full as foolishly conventional, 
smooth-tongued and hypocritical as they. They acted their 
part and I acted mine, — none of us were ever our real selves 
for a moment. In very truth, one of the reasons why ' fash- 
ionable' men and women cannot bear to be alone is, that a 
solitude in which they are compelled to look face to face w\)Q\\ 
their secret selves becomes unbearable Ijecause of the burden 


they carry of concealed vice and accusing shame. My emo- 
tion soon passed, however, and slipping my arm through Lu- 
cio's, I smiled, as I answered — 

" Your advice, my dear fellow, would do credit to a Salva- 
tionist preacher, but it is quite valueless to me, because im- 
possible to follow. To say farewell for ever to you, in the 
first place, would be to make myself guilty of the blackest 
ingratitude ; in the second instance, society, with all its 
ridiculous humbug, is nevertheless necessary for the amuse- 
ment of myself and my future wife, — Royalty, moreover, is 
accustomed to be flattered, and we shall not be hurt by join- 
ing in the general inane chorus ; thirdly, if I did as the 
visionary Jew suggested " 

^'What visionary Jew?" he asked, his eyes sparkling 

" Why, Christ of course !" I rejoined lightly. 

The shadow of a strange smile parted his lips. 

*'It is the fashion to blaspheme !" he said. ''A mark of 
brilliancy in literature, and wit in society ! I forgot ! Pray 
go on, — if you did as Christ suggested ' ' 

*' Yes, — if I gave half my goods to the poor, I should not 
be thanked for it, or considered anything but a fool for my 

" You would wish to be thanked?" he said. 

" Naturally ! Most people like a little gratitude in return 
for benefits." 

*' They do. And the Creator, who is always giving, is sup- 
posed to like gratitude also," he observed; ''nevertheless, 
He seldom gets it !" 

*'I do not talk of hyperphysical nothingness," I said with 
impatience. " I am speaking of the plain facts of this world 
and the people who live in it. If one gives largely, one 
expects to be acknowledged as generous ; but if I were to 
divide my fortune, and hand half of it to the poor, the matter 
would be chronicled in about six lines in one of the papers, 
and society would exclaim, ' What a fool !' " 


<* Then let us talk no more about it," said Lucio, his brows 
clearing, and his eyes gathering again their wonted light of 
mockery and mirth. ''Having won the Derby, you have 
really done all a nineteenth-century civilization expects you 
to do, and for your reward, you will be in universal demand 
everywhere. You may hope soon to dine at Marlborough 
House, — and a little back-stair influence and political jobbery 
will work you into the Cabinet if you care for it. Did I not 
tell you I would set you up as successfully as the bear who has 
reached the bun on the top of the slippery pole, a spectacle 
for the envy of men and the wonder of angels ? Well, there 
you are ! — triumphant ! — a great creature, Geoffrey, — in fact, 
you are the greatest product of the age, a man with five mil- 
lions, and owner of the Derby-winner ! What is the glory 
of intellect compared to such a position as yours ! Men envy 
you, — and as for angels, — if there are any, — you may be sure 
they do wonder ! A man's fame guaranteed by a horse is 
something indeed to make an angel stare !" 

He laughed uproariously, and from that day he never spoke 
again of his singular proposition that I should ' part with 
him,' and let the "nobler" nature in me have its way. I 
was not to know then that he had staked a chance upon 
my soul, and lost it, and that from henceforward he took a 
determined course with me, implacably on to the appalling 

My marriage took place on the appointed day in June with 
all the pomp and extravagant ' show' befitting my position 
and that of the woman I had chosen to wed. It is needless 
to describe the gorgeousness of the ceremony in detail, — 
any fashionable ' ladies paper' describing the wedding of an 
Earl's daughter to a five-fold millionaire, will give an idea, 
in hysterical rhapsody, of the general effect. It was an 
amazing scene, — and one in which cc^stly millinery completely 
vanquished all considerations of solemnity or sacredness in 
the supposed * divine' ordinance. The impressive command, 
"I require and charge ye both, as ye will answer at the 


dreadful day of judgment," did not obtain half so much 
awed attention as the exquisite knots of pearls and diamonds 
which fastened the bride's silver-emboidered train to her 
shoulders. 'All the world and his wife' were present, — that 
is, the social world, which imagines no other world exists, 
though it is the least part of the community. The Prince of 
Wales honoured us by his presence ; two great dignitaries of 
the church performed the marriage-rite, resplendent in re- 
dundant fulness of white sleeve and surplice, and equally 
imposing in the fatness of their bodies and unctuous redne-s 
of their faces; and Lucio was my 'best man.' He was in 
high, almost wild spirits, and, during our drive to the church 
together, had entertained me all the way with numerous droll 
stories, mostly at the expense of the clergy. When we reached 
the sacred edifice, he said laughingly as he alighted — 

" Did you ever hear it reported, Geoffrey, that the devil is 
imable to enter a church, because of the cross upon it, or 
within it?" 

"I have heard some such nonsense," I replied, smiling at 
the humour expressed in his sparkling eyes and eloquent 

'' It /j- nonsense, for the makers of the legend forgot one 
thing," he continued, dropping his voice to a whisper as we 
passed under the carved gothic portico, — ''the cross may be 

present, but so is the clergyman ! And wherever a 

clergyman goes the devil can follow !" 

I almost laughed aloud at his manner of making this ir- 
reverent observation, and the look with which he accom- 
panied it. The rich tones of the organ creeping softly on the 
flower-scented silence, however, quickly solemnized my mood, 
— and while I leaned against the altar-rails waiting for my 
bride, I caught myself wondering, for the hundredth time or 
more, at my comrade's singularly proud and kingly aspect, as 
with folded arms and lifted head he contemplated the lily- 
decked altar and the gleaming crucifix upon it, his meditative 
eyes bespeaking a curious mingling of reverence and contempt. 


One incident I remember, as standing out particularly in 
all the glare and glitter of the brilliant scene, and this occurred 
at the signing of our names in the register. When Sibyl, a 
vision of angelic loveliness in all her bridal white, affixed her 
signature to the entry, Lucio bent towards her. 

"As 'best man' I claim an old-fashioned privilege!" he 
said, and kissed her lightly on the cheek. She blushed a 
vivid red, then suddenly grew ghastly pale, and with a kind of 
choking cry, reeled back in a dead faint in the arms of one 
of her bridesmaids. It was some minutes before she was re- 
stored to consciousness, but she made light both of my alarm 
and the consternation of her friends, — and assuring us that 
it was nothing but the effect of the heat of the weather and 
the excitement of the day, she took my arm and walked 
down the aisle smilingly through the brilliant ranks of her 
staring and envious ' society' friends, all of whom coveted 
her good fortune, not because she had married a worthy or 
gifted man, — that would have been no special matter for con- 
gratulation, — but simply because she had married five millions 
of money ! I was the appendage to the millions — nothing 
further. She held her head high and haughtily, though I felt 
her tremble as the thundering strains of the Bridal March 
from Lohengrin poured sonorous triumph on the air. She 
trod on roses all the way, — I remembered that too, . . . 
afterwards. Her satin slipper crushed the hearts of a thousand 
innocent things that must surely have been more dear to God 
than she; — the little harmless souls of flowers, whose task in 
life, sweetly fulfilled, had been to create beauty and fragrance 
by their mere existence, expired to gratify the vanity of one 
woman to whom nothing was sacred ! But I anticipate, — I 
was yet in my fool's dream, and imagined that the dying blos- 
soms were happy to perish thus beneath her tread ! 

A grand reception was held at Lord Elton's house after the 
ceremony, and in the midst of the chattering, the eating and 
the drinking, we — my newly made wife and I — departed amid 
the profuse flatteries and good wishes of our 'friends,' who, 

N t 25 


primed with the very finest champagne, made a very decent 
show of being sincere. The last person to say farewell to us 
at the carriage-door was Lucio, — and the sorrow I felt at 
parting with him was more than I could express in words. 
From the very hour of the dawning of my good fortune, we 
had been almost inseparable companions, — I owed my suc- 
cess in society, everything, even my bride herself, to his 
management and tact, — and though I had now won for my 
life's partner the most beautiful of women, I could not con- 
template even the temporary breaking of the association 
between myself and my gifted and brilliant comrade, without 
a keen pang of personal pain amid my nuptial joys. Leaning 
his arms on the carriage-window, he looked in upon us both, 

'' My spirit will be with you both in all your journeyings !" 
he said. "And when you return, I shall be one of the first 
to bid you welcome home. Your house-party is fixed for Sep- 
tember, I believe?" 

" Yes, and you will be the most eagerly desired guest of all 
invited !" I replied heartily, pressing his hand. 

"Fie, for shame!" he retorted laughingly. "Be not so 
disloyal of speech, Geoffrey ! Are you not going to entertain 
the Prince, the most popular of men? — and shall anyone be 
more ' eagerly desired' than he ? No ; I must play a humble 
third or even fourth on your list where Royalty is concerned, 
— my princedom is alas ! not that of Wales, — and the throne 
I might claim (if I had anyone to help me, which I have not) 
is a long way removed from that of England !" 

Sibyl said nothing, but her eyes rested on his handsome face 
and fine figure with an odd wonder and wistfulness, and she 
was very pale. 

" Good-bye, Lady Sibyl !" he added gently. "All joy be 
with you ! To us who are left behind, your absence will seem 
long, — but \.o you, — ah ! — Love gives wings to time, and what 
would be to ordinary folks a month of mere dull living, will 
be for you nothing but a moment's rapture ! Love is better 


than wealth, — you have found that out already I know ! — but 
I think — and hope — that you are destined to make the knowl- 
edge more certain and complete ! Think of me sometimes ! 
Au revoir !" 

The horses started, — a handful of rice, flung by the society 
idiot who is always at weddings, rattled against the door and 
on the roof of the brougham, and Lucio stepped back, waving 
his hand. To the last we saw him, a tall stately figure on the 
steps of Lord Elton's mansion, surrounded by an ultra-fash- 
ionable throng, . . . bridesmaids in bright attire and pictuie- 
hats, — young girls all eager and excited-looking, each of them 
no doubt longing fervently for the day to come when they 
might severally manage to secure as rich a husband as myself, 
. . . match-making mothers and wicked old dowagers, exhib- 
iting priceless lace on their capacious bosoms, and ablaze with 
diamonds, . . . men with white button-hole bouquets in their 
irreproachably fitting frock-coats, — servants in gay liveries, 
and the usual street-crowd of idle sight-seers,-^all this cluster 
of faces, costumes and flowers was piled against the grey back- 
ground of the stone portico, — and in the midst, the dark 
beauty of Lucio' s face and the luminance of his flashing eyes 
made him the conspicuous object and chief centre of attrac- 
tion, . . . then . . . the carriage turned a sharp corner, — 
the faces vanished, — and Sibyl and I realized that from hence- 
forward we were left alone, — alone to face the future and our- 
selves, — and to learn the lesson of love ... or hate . . . for 
evermore together. 


I CANNOT now trace the slow or swift flitting by of phan- 
tasmal events, . . . wild ghosts of days or weeks that drifted 
past, and brought me gradually and finally to a time when I 
found myself wandering, numb and stricken and sick at heart, 
by the shores of a lake in Switzerland, — a small lake, densely 


blue, with apparently a thought in its depths such as is reflected 
in a child's earnest eye. I gazed down at the clear and glisten- 
ing water almost iinseeingly, — the snow-peaked mountains 
surrounding it were too high for the lifting of my aching sight, 
— loftiness, purity, and radiance were unbearable to my mind, 
crushed as it was beneath a weight of dismal wreckage and 
ruin. What a fool was I, ever to have believed that in this 
world there could be such a thing as happiness ! Misery 
stared me in the face, — life-long misery, — and no escape but 
death ! Misery ! — it was the word which, like a hellish groan, 
had been uttered by the three dreadful phantoms that had 
once, in an evil vision, disturbed my rest. What had I done, 
I demanded indignantly of myself, to deserve this wretched- 
ness which no wealth could cure ? — why was fate so unjust ? 
Like all my kind, I was unable to discern the small yet sirong 
links of the chain I had myself wrought and which bound me 
to my own undoing, — I blamed fate, or rather God, — and 
talked of injustice merely because / personally suffered, never 
realizing that what I considered unjust was but the equitable 
measuring forth of that Eternal Law which is carried out with 
as mathematical an exactitude as the movement of the planets, 
notwithstanding man's pigmy efforts to impede its fulfilment. 
The light wind blowing down from the snow peaks above me 
ruffled the placidity of the little lake by which I aimlessly 
strolled. I watched the tiny ripples break over its surface like 
the lines of laughter on a human face, and wondered morosely 
whether it was deep enough to drown in ! For what was the 
use of living on, — knowing what I knew ! Knowing that she 
whom I had loved and whom I loved still in a way that was 
hateful to myself, was a thing viler and more shameless in 
character than the veriest poor drab of the street who sells 
herself for current coin, — that the lovely body and angel-face 
were but an attractive disguise for the soul of a harpy, — a vul- 
ture of vice, . . . my God ! — an irrepressible cry escaped me 
as my thoughts went on and on in the never-ending circle and 
problem of incurable, unspeakable despair, and I threw myself 


down on a shelving bank of grass that sloped towards the 
lake and covered my face in a paroxysm of tearless agony. 

Still inexorable thought worked in my brain and forced me 
to consider my position. Was she, — was Sibyl — more to 
blame than I myself for all the strange havoc wrought ? I had 
married her of my own free will and choice, — and she had 
told me beforehand — " I am a contaminated creature, trained 
to perfection in the lax morals and prurient literature of my 
day." Well, — and so it had proved ! My own blood burned 
with shame as I reflected how ample and convincing were the 
proofs ! — and, starting up from my recumbent posture, I paced 
up and down again restlessly in a fever of self-contempt and 
disgust. What could I do with a woman such as she to whom 
I was now bound for life ? Reform her ? She would laugh me 
to scorn for the attempt. Reform myself? She would sneer 
at me for an effeminate milksop. Besides, was not I as willing 
to be degraded as she was to degrade me ? — a very victim to 
my brute passions ? Tortured and maddened by my feelings 
I roamed about wildly, and s'arted as if a pistol-shot had been 
fired near me when the plash of oars sounded on the silence 
and the keel of a small boat grated on the shore, the boatman 
within it respectfully begging me in mellifluous French to 
employ him for an hour, I assented, and in a minute or two 
Avas out on the lake in the middle of the red glow of sunset 
which turned the snow-summits to points of flame, and the 
water to the hue of ruby wine. I think the man who rowed 
me saw that I was in no very pleasant humour, for he preserved 
a discreet silence, — and I, pulling my hat partly over my eyes, 
lay back in the stern, still busy with my wretched musings. 
Only a month married ! — and yet, — a sickening satiety had 
taken ihe place of the so-called ''deathless" lover's passion. 
There were moments even, when my wife's matchless physical 
beauty appeared hideous to me I knew her as she was, 
and no exterior charm could ever again cover for me the 
revolting nature within. And what puzzled me from dawn 
to dusk was her polished, specious hypocrisy, — her amazing 



aptitude for lies ! To look at her, — to hear her speak, — one 
would have deemed her a very saint of purity, — a delicate 
creature whom a coarse word would startle and offend, — a 
very incarnation of the sweetest and most gracious woman- 
hood, all heart and feeling and sympathy. Everyone thought 
thus of her, — and never was there a greater error. Heart she 
had none ; that fact was borne in upon me two days after our 
marriage while we were in Paris, for there a telegram reached 
us announcing her mother's death. The paralyzed Countess 
of Elton had, it appeared, expired suddenly on our wedding- 
day, — or rather our wedding-night, — but the Earl had deemed 
it best to wait forty-eight hours before interrupting our hyme- 
neal happiness with the melancholy tidings. He followed his 
telegram by a brief letter to his daughter in which the con- 
cluding lines were these: ''As you are a bride and are trav- 
elling abroad, I should advise you by no means to go into 
mourning. Under the circumstances it is really not neces- 

And Sibyl had readily accepted his suggestion, keeping 
generally, however, to white and pale mauve colourings in 
her numerous and wonderful toilettes, in order not to outrage 
the proprieties too openly in the opinions of persons known 
to her, whom she might possibly meet casually in the foreign 
towns we visited. No word of regret passed her lips, and no 
tears were shed for her mother's loss. She only said — 
*' What a good thing her sufferings are over !" 
Then, with a little sarcastic smile she had added — 
" I wonder when we shall receive the Elton-Chesney wed- 
ding cards !" 

I did not reply, for I was pained and grieved at her lack of 
all gentle feeling in the matter, and I was also, to a certain 
extent, superstitiously affected by the fact of the death occur- 
ring on our marriage-day. However, this was now a thing of 
the past ; a month had elapsed, — a month in which the tearing- 
down of illusions had gone on daily and hourly, — till I was 
left to contemplate the uncurtained bare prose of life, and the 


knowledge that I had wedded a beautiful feminine animal with 
the soul of a shameless libertine. Here I pause and ask my- 
self, — Was not I also a libertine? Yes, — I freely admit it, — 
but the libertinage of a man, while it may run to excess in hot 
youth, generally resolves itself, under the influence of a great 
love, into a strong desire for undefiled sweetness and modesty 
in the woman beloved. If a man has indulged in both folly 
and sin, the time comes at last, when, if he has any good left 
in him at all, he turns back upon himself and lashes his own 
vices with the scorpion whip of self-contempt till he smarts 
with the rage and pain of it, — and then, aching in every pulse 
with his deserved chastisement, he kneels in spirit at the feet 
of some pure true-hearted woman whose white soul, like an 
angel, hovers compassionately above him, and there lays down 
his life, saying, ''Do what you will with it, — it is yours!" 
And woe to her who plays lightly with such a gift or works 
fresh injury upon it ! No man, even if he has in his day 
indulged in ' rapid' living, should choose a ' rapid' woman 
for his wife, — he had far better put a loaded pistol to his head 
and make an end of it. 

The sunset-glory began to fade from the landscape as the 
little boat glided on over the tranquil water, and a great shadow 
was on my mind, like the shadow of that outer darkness which 
would soon be night. Again I asked myself, — Was there no 
happiness possible in all the world ? Just then the Angelus 
chimed from a little chapel on the shore, and as it rang, a 
memory stirred in my brain moving me well-nigh to tears. 
Mavis Clare was happy ! — Mavis, with her frank fearless eyes, 
sweet face and bright nature, — Mavis, wearing her crown of 
Fame as simply as a child might wear a wTeath of may-blossom, 
— she, with a merely moderate share of fortune which even in its 
slight proportion was only due to her own hard incessant w^ork, 
— she was happy. And I — with my millions — was wretched. 
How w^as it ? — Why was it ? What had I done ? I had lived 
as my compeers lived, — I had followed the lead of all society, 
— I had feasted my friends and effectually ' snubbed' my foes, 


— I had comported myself exactly as others of my wealth com- 
port themselves, — and I had married a woman whom most 
men, looking upon once, would have been proud to win. 
Nevertheless there seemed to be a curse upon me. What had 
I missed out of life? I knew, — but was ashamed to own it, 
because I had previously scorned what I called the dream- 
nothings of mere sentiment. And now I had to acknowledge 
the paramount importance of those ' dream-nothings' out of 
which all true living must come. I had to realize that my 
marriage was nothing but the mere mating of the male and 
female animal, — a coarse bodily union and no more ; — that 
all the finer and deeper emotions which make a holy thing of 
human wedlock were lacking, — the mutual respect, the trust- 
ing sympathy, — the lovely confidence of mind with mind, — 
the subtle inner spiritual bond which no science can analyze, 
and which is so much closer and stronger than the material, 
and knits immortal souls together when bodies decay, — these 
things had no existence and never would exist between my 
wife and me. Thus, as far as I was concerned, there was a 
strange blankness in the world, — I was thrust back upon 
myself for comfort and found none. What should I do with 
my life, I wondered drearily ! Win fame, — true fame, — after 
all? With Sibyl's witch-eyes mocking my efforts? — never! 
If I had ever had any gifts of creative thought within me she 
would have killed it. 

The hour was over, — the boatman rowed me into land, and 
I paid and dismissed him. The sun had completely sunk, — 
there were dense purple shadows darkening over the moun- 
tains, and one or two small stars were faintly discernible in 
the east. I walked slowly back to the villa w^here we were 
staying, — a ^ dependance' belonging to the large hotel of the 
district, which we had rented for the sake of privacy and in- 
dependence, some of the hotel-servants being portioned off to 
attend upon us, in addition to my own man Morris, and my 
wife's maid. 1 found Sibyl in the garden, reclining in a basket- 
chair, her eyes fixed on the after glow of the sunset, and in 


her hands a book, — one of the loathliest of the prurient novels 
that have been lately written by women to degrade and shame 
their sex. With a sudden impulse of rage upon me which I 
could not resist, I snatched the volume from her and flung it 
into the lake below. She made no movement of either sur- 
prise or offence, — she merely turned her eyes away from the 
glowing heavens and looked at me with a little smile. 

*' How violent you are to-day, Geoffrey !" she said. 

I gazed at her in sombre silence. From the light hat with 
its pale mauve orchids that rested on her nut-brown hair, to 
the point of her daintily embroidered shoe, her dress was per- 
fect, — and she was perfect. / knew that, — a matchless piece 
of womanhood . . . outwardly. My heart beat, — there was 
a sense of suffocation in my throat, — I could have killed her 
for the mingled loathing and longing which her beauty roused 
in me. 

"I am sorry !" I said hoarsely, avoiding her gaze. *' But I 
hate to see you with such a book as that." 

''You know its contents?" she queried, with the same 
slight smile. 

*' I can guess." 

'' Such things have to be written, they say, now-a-days," she 
went on. "And, certainly, to judge from the commendation 
bestowed on these sort of books by the press, it is very evi- 
dent that the wave of opinion is setting in the direction of 
letting girls know all about marriage before they enter upon 
it, in order that they may do so with their eyes wide open, — 
zwv wide open!" She laughed, and her laughter hurt me 
like a physical wound. ''What an old-fashioned idea the 
bride of the poets and sixty-years-ago romancists seems now !" 
she continued. " Imagine her ! — a shrinking tender creature, 
shy of beholders, timid of speech, . . . wearing the em- 
blematic veil, which in former days, you know, used to cover 
the face entirely as a symbol that the secrets of marriage were 
as yet hidden from the maiden's innocent and ignorant eyes. 
Now the veil is worn flung back from the bride's brows, and 


she stares unabashed at everybody, — oh, yes, indeed we know- 
quite well what we are doing now when we marry, thanks to 
the * new' fiction !" 

''The new fiction is detestable," I said hotly, "both in 
style and morality. Even as a question of literature I won- 
der at your condescending to read any of it. The woman 
whose dirty book I have just thrown away — and I feel no 
compunction for having done it — is destitute of grammar as 
well as decency." 

" Oh, but the critics don't notice that," she interrupted, 
with a delicate mockery vibrating in her voice. "It is ap- 
parently not their business to assist in preserving the purity 
of the English language. What they fall into raptures over 
is the originality of the * sexual' theme, though I should have 
thought all such matters were as old as the hills. I never 
read reviews as a rule, but I did happen to come across one 
on the book you have just drowned, — and in it the reviewer 
stated he had cried over it !" 

She laughed again. 

" Beast !" I said emphatically. " He probably found in it 
some glozing-over of his own vices. But you, Sibyl — why do 
you read such stuff? — how can you read it?" 

" Curiosity moved me in the first place," she answered 
listlessly. "I wanted to see what makes a reviewer cry. 
Then when I began to read, I found that the story was all 
about the manner in which men amuse themselves with the 
soiled doves of the highways and bye-ways, — and as I was 
not very well instructed in that sort of thing I thought I might 
as well learn? You know these unpleasant morsels of infor- 
mation on unsavoury subjects are like the reputed suggestions 
of the devil, — if you listen to one, you are bound to hear 
more. Besides, literature is supposed to reflect the time we 
live in, — and that kind of literature being more prevalent 
than anything else, we are compelled to accept and study it as 
the mirror of the age." 

With an expression on her face that was half mirth and half 


scorn, she rose from her seat, and looked down into the lovely 
lake below her. 

" The fishes will eat that book," she observed. " I hope it 
will not poison them ! If they could read and understand it, 
what singular ideas they would have of us human beings !" 

"Why don't you read Mavis Clare's books?" I asked 
suddenly. " You told me you admired her." 

*'So I do, — immensely!" she answered. ''I admire her 
and wonder at her both together. How that woman can keep 
her child's heart and child's faith in a world like this, is more 
than I can understand. It is always a perfect marvel to me, — 
a sort of supernatural surprise. You ask me why don't I read 
her books, — I do read them, — I've read them all over and 
over again, — but she does not write many, and one has to 
wait for her productions longer than for those of most authors. 
When I want to feel like an angel, I read Mavis Clare, — but I 
more often am inclined to feel the other way, and then her 
books are merely so many worries to me." 

*' Worries?" I echoed. 

" Yes. It is worrying to find somebody believing in a God 
when jw/ can't believe in Him, — to have beautiful faiths 
offered to you which jw/ can't grasp, — and to know that 
there is a creature alive, a woman like yourself in everything 
except mind, who is holding fast a happiness which you 
can never attain, — no, not though you held out praying 
hands day and night, and shouted wild appeals to the dull 
heavens ! ' ' 

At that moment she looked like a queen of tragedy, — her 
violet eyes ablaze, her lips apart, her breast heaving. I ap- 
proached her with a strange nervous hesitation and touched 
her hand. She gave it to me passively. I drew it through 
my arm, and for a minute or two we paced silently up and 
down the gravel walk. The lights from the monster hotel 
which catered for us and our wants were beginning to twinkle 
from basement to roof, and just above the chalet we rented, a 
triad of stars sparkled in the shape of a trefoil. 


'' Poor Geoffrey !" she said presently, with a quick upward 
glance at me, — " I am sorry for you ! With all my vagaries 
of disposition I am not a fool, and at anyrate I have learned 
how to analyze myself as well as others. I read you as 
easily as I read a book, — I see what a strange tumult your 
mind is in ! You love me — and you loathe me ! — and the 
contrast of emotion makes a wreck of you and your ideals. 
Hush, — don't speak; I know, — I know! But what would 
you have me be ? An angel ? I cannot realize such a being 
for more than a fleeting moment of imagination. A saint? 
They were all martyred. A good w^oman ? I never met one. 
Innocent ? — ignorant ? I told you before we married that I 
was neither ; there is nothing left for me to discover as far as 
the relations between men and women are concerned, — I have 
taken the measure of the inherent love of vice in both sexes. 
There is not a pin to choose between them — men are no worse 
than women, — women no worse than men. I have dis- 
covered everything — except God ! — and I conclude no God 
could ever have designed such a crazy and mean business as 
human life." 

While she thus spoke, I could have fallen at her feet and 
implored her to be silent. For she was, unknowingly, giving 
utterance to some of the many thoughts in which I myself had 
frequently indulged, — and yet, from her lips they sounded 
cruel, unnatural, and callous to a degree that made me shrink 
from her in fear and agony. We had reached a little grove of 
pines, — and here in the silence and shadow, I took her in my 
arms and stared disconsolately upon the beauty of her face. 

"Sibyl!" I whispered, — ''Sibyl, what is wrong wnth us 
both ? How is it that we do not seem to find the loveliest 
side of love? — why is it that even in our kisses and em- 
braces, some impalpable darkness comes between us, so that 
we anger or weary each other when we should be glad and 
satisfied? What is it? Can you tell? For you know the 
darkness is there !" 

A curious look came into her eyes, — a far-away strained 


look of hungry yearning, mingled, as I thought, with com- 
passion for me. 

** Yes, it is there!" she answered slowly. ''And it is of 
our own mutual creation. I believe you have something 
nobler in your nature, Geoffrey, than I have in mine, — an 
indefinable something that recoils from me and my theories 
despite your wish and will. Perhaps if you had given way to 
that feeling in time, you would never have married me. You 
speak of the loveliest side of love, — to me there is no lovely 
side, — it is all coarse and horrible. You and I for instance, — 
cultured man and woman, — we cannot, in marriage, get a 
flight beyond the common emotions of Hodge and his girl !" 
She laughed violently, and shuddered in my arms. ''What 
liars the poets are, Geoffrey ! They ought to be sentenced to 
life-long imprisonment for their perjuries ! They help to 
mould the credulous beliefs of a woman's heart; — in her early 
youth she reads their delicious assurances, and imagines that 
love will be all they teach, — a thing divine and lasting beyond 
earthly countings ! — then comes the coarse finger of prose on 
the butterfly-wing of poesy, and the bitterness and hideous- 
ness of complete disillusion !" 

I held her still in my arms with the fierce grasp of a man 
clinging to a spar ere he drowns in mid- ocean. 

"But I love you, Sibyl! — my wife, I love you!" I said, 
with a passion that choked my utterance. 

"You love me, — yes, I know, but how? In a way that is 
abhorrent to yourself!" she replied. "It is not poetic love, 
— it is man's love, and man's love is brute love. So it is, — 
so it will be, — so it must be. Moreover, the brute-love soon 
tires, — and when it dies out from satiety there is nothing left. 
Nothing, Geoffrey, absolutely nothing but a blank and civil 
form of intercourse, which I do not doubt we shall be able to 
keep up for the admiration and comment of society." 

She disengaged herself from my embrace, and moved to- 
wards the house. 

" Come !" she added, turning her exquisite head back over 



her shoulder with a feline caressing grace that she alone pos- 
sessed. ** You know there is a famous lady in London who 
advertises her salable charms to the outside public by means 
of her monogram worked into the lace of all her window- 
blinds, thinking it no doubt good for trade ! I am not quite 
so bad as that ! You have paid dearly for me I know ; but 
remember I as yet wear no jewels but yours, and crave no 
gifts beyond those you are generous enough to bestow, — and 
my dutiful desire is to give you as much full value as I can 
for your money. ' ' 

*' Sibyl, you kill me !" I cried, tortured beyond endurance. 
^* Do you think me so base " 

I broke off with almost a sob of despair. 

'' You cannot help being base," she said, steadily regarding 
me, — *' because you are a man. I am base because I am a 
woman. If we believed in a God, either of us, we might 
discover some different way of life and love, — who knows ? 
But neither you nor I have any remnant of faith in a Being 
whose existence all the scientists of the day are ever at work 
to disprove. We are persistently taught that we are animals 
and nothing more, — let us therefore not be ashamed of ani- 
malism. Animalism and atheism are approved by the scien- 
tists and applauded by the press, — and the clergy are powerless 
to enforce the faith they preach. Come, Geoffrey, don't stay 
mooning like a stricken Parsifal under those pines, — throw 
away that thing which troubles you, your conscience, — throw 
it away as you have thrown the book I was lately reading, 
and consider this, — that most men of your type take pride 
and rejoice in being the prey of a bad woman, so you should 
really congratulate yourself on having one for a wife, — one 
who is so broad-minded, too, that she will always let you have 
your own way in everything you do, provided you let her 
have hers. It is the way all marriages are arranged now-a- 
days, — at any rate in oi//- set, — otherwise the tie would be 
impossible of endurance. Come !" 

** We cannot live together on such an understanding, Sibyl !" 


I said hoarsely, as I walked slowly by her side towards the 

'' Oh, yes, we can !" she averred, a little malign smile play- 
ing round her lips. " We can do as others do, — there is no 
necessity for us to stand out from the rest like quixotic fools, 
and pose as models to other married people, — we should only 
be detested for our pains. It is surely better to be popular 
than virtuous, — virtue never pays. See, there is our interest- 
ing German waiter coming to inform us that dinner is ready; 
please don't look so utterly miserable, for we have not quar- 
relled, and it would be foolish to let the servants think we have." 

I made no answer. We entered the house, and dined, — 
Sibyl keeping up a perfect lire of conversation, to which I 
replied in mere monosyllables, — and after dinner we went as 
usual to sit in the illuminated gardens of the adjacent hotel 
and hear the band. Sibyl was known and universally admired 
and flattered by many of the people staying there, — and, as 
she moved about among her acquaintances, chatting first with 
one group and then with another, I sat in moody silence 
watching her with increasing wonderment and horror. Her 
beauty seemed to me like the beauty of the poison-flower, 
which, brilliant in colour and perfect in shape, exhales death 
to those who pluck it from its stem. And that night, when I 
held her in my arms, and felt her heart beating against my 
own in the darkness, an awful dread arose in me, — a dread as 
to whether I might not at some time or other be tempted to 
strangle her as she lay on my breast, — strangle her as one 
would strangle a vampire that sucked one's blood and strength 
away ! 


We concluded our wedding-tour rather sooner than we had 
at first intended, and returned to England and Willowsmere 
Court about the middle of August. I had a vague notion 


stirring in me that gave me a sort of dim indefinable conso- 
lation, and it was this, — I meant to bring my wife and Mavis 
Clare together, believing that the gentle influence of the 
gracious and happy creature, who, like a contented bird in 
its nest, dwelt serene in the little domain so near my own, 
might have a softening and wholesome effect upon Sibyl's 
pitiless love of analysis and scorn of all noble ideals. The 
heat in Warwickshire was at this time intense, — the roses 
were out in their full beauty, and the thick foliage of the 
branching oaks and elms in my grounds afforded grateful 
shade and repose to the tired body, while the tranquil love- 
liness of the woodland and meadow scenery, comforted and 
soothed the equally tired mind. After all there is no country 
in the world so fair as England, — none so richly endowed 
with verdant forest and fragrant flowers, — none that can 
boast of sweeter nooks for seclusion and romance. In Italy, 
that land so over-praised by hysterical poseiws who foolishly 
deem it admirable to glorify any country save their own, 
the fields are arid and brown and parched by the too fervent 
sun, — there are no shady lanes such as England can boast 
of in all her shires, — and the mania among Italians for ruth- 
lessly cutting down their finest trees has not only actually 
injured the climate, but has so spoilt the landscape that it is 
difficult to believe at all in its once renowned and still erro- 
neously reported charm. Such a bower of beauty as ' Lily 
Cottage' was in that sultry August could never have been 
discovered in all the length and breadth of Italy. Mavis 
superintended the care of her gardens herself, — she had two 
gardeners, who under her directions kept the grass and trees 
continually watered, — and nothing could be imagined more 
lovely than the picturesque old-fashioned house, covered with 
roses and tufts of jessamine that seemed to tie up the roof in 
festal knots and garlands, while around the building spread 
the reaches of deep emerald lawn and bosky arbours of foliage 
where all the most musical song-birds apparently found refiige 
and delight, and where at evening a perfect colony of nightin- 


gales kept up a bubbling fountain of delicious melody. I 
remember well the afternoon, warm, languid and still, when I 
took Sibyl to see the woman-author she had so long admired. 
The heat was so great that in our own grounds all the birds 
were silent, but when we approached ' Lily Cottage' the first 
thing we heard was the piping of a thrush up somewhere among 
the roses, — a mellow liquid warble expressing 'sweet con- 
tent,' and mingling with the subdued coo-cooings of the dove 
* reviewers' who were commenting on whatever pleased or 
displeased them in the distance. 

" What a pretty place it is !" said my wife, as she peeped 
over the gate and through the odorous tangles of honeysuckle 
and jessamine. ''I really think it is prettier than Willows- 
mere. It has been wonderfully improved." 

We were shown in, and Mavis, who had expected our visit, 
did not keep us waiting long. As she entered, clad in some 
gossamer white stuff that clung softly about her pretty figure 
and was belted in by a simple ribbon, an odd sickening pang 
went through my heart. The fair untroubled face, the joyous 
yet dreamy student eyes, the sensitive mouth, — and above all, 
the radiant look of happiness that made the whole expression 
of her features so bright and fascinating, taught me in one 
flash of conviction all that a woman might be, and all that she 
too frequently was not. And I had hated Mavis Clare ! — I 
had even taken up my pen to deal her a wanton blow through 
the medium of anonymous criticism, . . . but this was before 
I knew her, — before I realized that there could be any differ- 
ence between her and the female scarecrows who so fre- 
quently pose as ' novelists' without being able to write cor- 
rect English, and who talk in public of their ' copy' with the 
glibness gained from Grub Street and the journalists' cheap 
restaurant. Yes — I had hated her, — and now — now, almost 
I loved her ! Sibyl, tall, queenly and beautiful, gazed upon 
her with eyes that expressed astonishment as well as admira- 

'' To think that you are the famous Mavis Clare !" she said, 
u 26* 


smiling as she held out her hand. '' I always heard and knew 
that you did not look at all literary, but I never quite realized 
that you could be exactly what I see you are !" 

** To look literary does not always imply that you are 
literary!" returned Mavis, laughing a little. "Too often I 
am afraid you will find that the women who take pains to look 
literary are ignorant of literature ! But how glad I am to see 
you. Lady Sibyl ! Do you know I used to watch you playing 
about on the lawns at Willowsmere when I was quite a little 

'' And I used to watch jw/," responded Sibyl. " You used 
to make daisy-chains and cowslip-balls in the fields opposite on 
the other side of the Avon. It is a great pleasure to me to 
know we are neighbours. You must come and see me often 
at Willowsmere." 

Mavis did not answer immediately, — she busied herself in 
pouring out tea and dispensing it to both of us. Sibyl, who 
was always on the alert for glimpses of character, noticed that 
she did not answer, and repeated her words coaxingly. 

*' You will come, will you not? As often as you like; the 
oftener the better. We must be friends, you know ! ' ' 

Mavis looked up then, a frank sweet smile in her eyes. 

*' Do you really mean it ?" she asked. 

" Mean it !" echoed Sibyl. '' Why, of course I do !" 

** How can you doubt it !" I exclaimed. 

** Well, you must both forgive me for asking such a question," 
said Mavis, still smiling. '* But you see you are now among 
what are called the 'county magnates,' and county magnates 
consider themselves infinitely above all authors. ' ' She laughed 
outright, and her blue eyes twinkled with fun. '' I think many 
of them estimate writers of books as some sort of strange out- 
growth of humanity that is barely decent. It is deliciously 
funny and always amuses me ; nevertheless, among my many 
faults, the biggest one is, I fancy, pride, and a dreadfully 
obstinate spirit of independence. Now, to tell you the truth, 
I have been asked by many so-called * great' people to their 


houses, and when I have gone, I have generally been sorry for 
it afterwards." 

*' Why?" I asked. ''They honour themselves by inviting 

** Oh, I don't think they take it in that way at all !" she 
replied, shaking her fair head demurely. ''They fancy 
they have performed a great act of condescension, — whereas 
it is really I who condescend, for it is very good of me, you 
know, to leave the society of the Pallas Athene in my study 
for that of a flounced and frizzled lady of fashion." Her 
bright smile again irradiated her face and she went on — 
" Once I was asked to luncheon with a certain baron and 
baroness who invited a few guests ' to meet me,' so they said. 
I was not introduced to more than one or two of these people, 
— the rest sat and stared at me as if I were a new kind of 
fish or fowl. Then the baron showed me his house, and 
told me the prices of his pictures and his china, — he was even 
good enough to explain which was Dresden and which was 
Delft ware, though I believe, benighted author as I am, I 
could have instructed him equally on these and other matters. 
However, I managed to smile amicably through the whole 
programme, and professed myself charmed and delighted in 
the usual way ; — but they never asked me to visit them again, 
— and (unless indeed they wanted me to be impressed with 
their furniture-catalogue), I can never make out what I did 
to be asked at all, and what I have done never to be asked 
any more ! ' ' 

"They must have h^^xv parvenus,'' said Sibyl indignantly. 
"No well-bred people would have priced their goods to you, 
unless they happened to be Jews." 

Mavis laughed — a merry little laugh like a peal of bells, — 
then she continued — 

" Well, I will not say who they were, — I must keep some- 
thing f ir my ' literary reminiscences' when I get old ! Then 
all these people will be named, and go down to posterity as 
Dante's enemies went down to Dante's hell ! I have only 


told you the incident just to show you why I asked you if 
you meant it, when you invited me to visit you at Willows- 
mere. Because the baron and baroness I have spoken of 
' gushed' over me and my poor books to such an extent that 
you would have fancied I was to be for evermore one of their 
dearest friends, — and they didn't mean it. Other people I 
know embrace me effusively and invite me to their houses, and 
they don't mean it. And when I find out these shams, I like 
to make it very clear on my own side that I do not seek to be 
embraced or invited, and that if certain great folks deem it a 
' favour' to ask me to their houses, I do not so consider it, 
but rather think the ' favour' is entirely on my part if I accept 
the invitation. And I do not say this for my own self at 
all, — self has nothing to do with it, — but I do say it and 
strongly assert it for the sake of the dignity of Literature as 
an art and profession. If a few other authors would maintain 
this position, we might raise the standard of letters by de- 
grees to what it was in the old days of Scott and Byron. I 
hope you do not think me too proud ?' ' 

*' On the contrary, I think you are quite right," said Sibyl 
earnestly. ''And I admire you for your courage and inde- 
pendence. Some of the aristocracy are, I know, such utter 
snobs that often I feel ashamed to belong to them. But as 
far as we are concerned, I can only assure you that if you 
will honour us by becoming our friend as well as neighbour, 
you shall not regret it. Do try and like me if you can !" 

She bent forward with a witching smile on her fair face. 
Mavis looked at her seriously and admiringly. 

" How beautiful you are !" she said frankly. '' Everybody 
tells you this of course, — still, I cannot help joining in the 
general chorus. To me, a lovely face is like a lovely flower, 
— I must admire it. Beauty is quite a divine thing, and 
though I am often told that the plain people are always the 
good people, I never can quite believe it. Nature is surely 
bound to give a beautiful face to a beautiful spirit." 

Sibyl, who had smiled with pleasure at the first words of the 


open compliment paid her by one of the most gifted of her 
own sex, now flushed deeply. 

" Not always, Miss Clare," she said, veiling her brilliant 
eyes beneath the droop of her long lashes. One can imagine 
a fair fiend as easily as a fair angel." 

''True!" and Mavis looked at her musingly; then sud- 
denly laughing in her blithe bright way, she added, "Quite 
true ! Really I cannot picture an ugly fiend, — for the fiends 
are supposed to be immortal, and I am convinced that im- 
mortal ugliness has no part in the universe. Downright 
hideousness belongs to humanity alone, — and an ugly face is 
such a blot on creation that we can only console ourselves by 
the reflection that it is fortunately perishable, and that in 
course of time the soul behind it will be released from its 
ill-formed husk, and will be allowed to wear a fairer aspect. 
Yes, Lady Sibyl, I will come to Willowsmere ; I cannot re- 
fuse to look upon such loveliness as yours as often as I may !" 

"You are a charming flatterer!" said Sibyl, rising and 
putting an arm round her in that affectionate coaxing way 
of hers which seemed so sincere and which so frequently 
meant nothing. " But I confess I prefer to be flattered by a 
woman rather than by a man. Men say the same things to 
all women, — they have a very limited repertoire of compli- 
ments, — and they will tell a fright she is beautiful if it hap- 
pens to serve their immediate purpose. But women them- 
selves can so hardly be persuaded to admit that any good 
qualities exist either inward or outward in one another, that 
when they do say a kind or generous thing of their own sex it 
is a wonder worth remembering. May I see your study?" 

Mavis willingly assented, and we all three went into the 
peaceful sanctum where the marble Pallas presided, and where 
the dogs Tricksy and Emperor were both ensconced, — Em- 
peror sitting up on his haunches and surveying the prospect 
from the window, and Tricksy with a most absurd air of 
importance, imitating the larger animal's attitude precisely, 
at a little distance off. Both creatures were friendly to my 


wife and to me, and while Sibyl was stroking the St Bernard's 
massive head, Mavis said suddenly — 

" Where is the friend who came with you here first, Prince 

"■ He is in St Petersburg just now," I answered. ''But he 
will be here in two or three weeks to stay with us on a visit 
for some time." 

"He is surely a very singular man," said Mavis thought- 
fully. **Do you remember how strangely my dogs behaved 
to him? Emperor was quite restless and troublesome for two 
or three hours after he had gone." 

And in a few words, she told Sibyl the incident of the St 
Bernard's attack upon Lucio. 

"Some people have a natural antipathy to dogs," said 
Sibyl, as she heard. "And the dogs always find it out and 
resent it. But I should not have thought Prince Rimanez 
had an antipathy to any creatures except — women !" 

And she laughed, a trifle bitterly. 

" Except women !" echoed Mavis surprisedly. "Does he 
hate women ? He must be a very good actor then, for to me 
he was wonderfully kind and gentle." 

Sibyl looked at her intently, and was silent for a minute. 
Then she said — 

"Perhaps it is because he knows you are unlike the ordi- 
nary run of women and have nothing in common with their 
usual trumpery aims. Of course he is always courteous to our 
sex, — but I think it is easy to see that his courtesy is often 
worn as a mere mask to cover a very different feeling." 

"You have perceived that, then, Sibyl?" I said with a 
slight smile. 

" I should be blind if I had not perceived it," she replied. 
"I do not, however, blame him for his pet aversion, — I think 
it makes him all the more attractive and interesting." 

"He is a great friend of yours?" inquired Mavis, looking 
at me as she put the question. 

"The very greatest friend I have," I replied quickly. "I 



owe him more than I can ever repay, — indeed I have to thank 
him even for introducing me to my wife." 

I said the words unthinkingly and playfully, but as I uttered 
them, a sudden shock affected my nerves, — a shock of painful 
memory. Yes, it was true ! — I owed to him, to Lucio, the 
misery, fear, degradation and shame of having such a woman 
as Sibyl was, united to me till death should us part, I felt 
myself turning sick and giddy, and I sat down in one of the 
quaint oak chairs that helped to furnish Mavis Clare's study, 
allowing the two women to pass out of the open French 
window into the sunlit garden together, the dogs following at 
their heels. I watched them as they went, — my wife, tall and 
stately, attired in the newest and most fashionable mode ; 
Mavis, small and slight, with her soft white gown and float- 
ing waist-ribbon, — the one sensual, the other spiritual, — the 
one base and vicious in desire, the other pure-souled and 
aspiring to noblest ends, — the one a physically magnificent 
animal, the other merely sweet-faced and ideally fair like a 
sylph of the woodlands, — and looking, 1 clenched my hands as 
I thought with bitterness of spirit what a mistaken choice I 
had made. In the profound egotism which had always been 
part of my nature I now actually allowed myself to believe 
that I might, had I chosen, have wedded Mavis Clare, — never 
for one moment imagining that all my wealth would have 
been useless to me in such a quest, and that I might as well 
have proposed to pluck a star from the sky as to win a woman 
who was able to read my nature thoroughly, and who would 
never have come down to my money -level from her intellectual 
throne, — no, not though I had been a monarch of many 
nations. I stared at the large tranquil features of the Pallas 
Athene, and the blank eyeballs of the marble goddess 
appeared to regard me in turn with impassive scorn. I 
glanced round the room, and at the walls adorned with the 
wise sayings of poets and philosophers, — sayings that re- 
minded me of truths which I knew, yet never accepted as 
practicable ; and presently my eyes were attracted to a corner 


near the writing-desk, which I had not noticed before, where 
there was a small dim lamp burning. Above this lamp an 
ivory crucifix gleamed white against draperies of dark purple 
velvet, — below it, on a silver bracket, was an hour-glass through 
which the sand was running in glistening grains, and round the 
entire little shrine was written in letters of gold, " Now is the 
acceptable time !" — the word * Now' being in larger characters 
than the rest. ' Now' was evidently Mavis's motto, — to lose 
no time, but to work, to pray, to love, to hope, to thank God 
and be glad for life, all in the ' Now' — and neither to regret 
the past nor forebode the future, but simply do the best that 
could be done, and leave all else in child-like confidence to 
the Divine Will. I got up restlessly, — the sight of the crucifix 
curiously annoyed me ; — and I followed the path my wife .and 
Mavis had taken through the garden. I found them looking 
in at the cage of the ' Athenaeum' owls, — the owl-in-chief 
being as usual pufi'ed out with his own importance and swell- 
ing visibly with indignation and excess of feather. Sibyl 
turned as she saw me, — her face was bright and smiling. 

'^ Miss Clare has very strong opinions of her own, Geoffrey," 
she said. " She is not as much captivated by Prince Rimanez 
as most people are, — in fact, she has just confided to me 
that she does not quite like him." 

Mavis blushed, but her eyes met mine with fearless candour. 

''It is wrong to say what one thinks, I know," she mur- 
mured in somewhat troubled accents. "And it is a dreadful 
fault of mine. Please forgive me, Mr Tempest ! You tell 
me the prince is your greatest friend, — and I assure you I 
was immensely impressed by his appearance when I first saw 
him, . , . but afterwards, . . . after I had studied him a 
little, the conviction was borne in upon me that he was not 
altogether what he seemed." 

"That is exactly what he says of himself," I answered, 
laughing a little. " He has a mystery I believe, — and he has 
promised to clear it up for me some day. But I'm sorry you 
don't like him, Miss Clare, — for he likes you." 


" Perhaps when I meet him again my ideas may be differ- 
ent," said Mavis gently. ''At present, . . . well — do not 
let us talk of it any more, — indeed I feel I have been very 
rude to express any opinion at all concerning one for whom 
you and Lady Sibyl have so great a regard. But somehow I 
seemed nnpelled, almost against my will, to say what I did just 

Her soft eyes looked pained and puzzled, and to relieve her, 
and change the subject, I asked if she was writing anything 

" Oh, yes," she replied. " It would never do for me to be 
idle. The public are very kind to me, — and no sooner have 
they read one thing of mine than they clamour for another, 
so I am kept very busy." 

" And what of the critics ?" I asked, with a good deal of 

She laughed. 

'*I neve-r pay the least attention to them," she answered, 
" except when they are hasty and misguided enough to write lies 
about me, — then I very naturally take the liberty to contradict 
those lies, either through my own statement or that of my 
lawyers. Apart from refusing to allow the public to be led 
into a false notion of my work and aims, I have no grudge 
whatever against the critics. They are generally very poor, 
hard working men, and have a frightful struggle to live. I 
have often, privately, done some of them a good turn without 
their knowledge. A publisher of mine sent me an MS. the 
other day by one of my deadliest enemies on the press, and 
stated that my opinion would decide its rejection or accept- 
ance. I read it through, and though it was not very brilliant 
work it was good enough, so I praised it as warmly as I could, 
and urged its publication, with the stipulation that the author 
should never be told I had had the casting vote. It has 
just come out, I see, — and I'm sure I hope it will succeed." 
Here she paused to gather a few deep damask roses, which she 
handed to Sibyl. ''Yes, critics are very badly, even cruelly 
o 27 


paid," she went on musingly. *' It is not to be expected that 
they should write eulogies of the successful author, while they 
continue unsuccessful, — such work could not be anything but 
gall and wormwood to them. I know the i)oor little wife of 
one of them, — and settled her dressmaker's bill for her because 
she was afraid to show it to her husband. The very week 
afterwards he slashed away at my last book in the most 
approved style in the paper on which he is employed and got, 
I suppose, about a guinea for his trouble. Of course he didn't 
know about his little wife and her dunning dressmaker ; and 
he never will know, because I have bound her over to secrecy." 

^* But why do you do such things ?" asked Sibyl astonished. 
" I would have let his wife get into the County Court for her 
bill, if I had been you !" 

'' Would you ?" and Mavis smiled gravely. *' Well, I could 
not. You know Who it was that said ' Bless them that curse 
you, and do good to them that hate you.' Besides, the poor 
little woman was frightened to death at her own expenditure. 
It is pitiful, you know, to see the helpless agon-es of people 
who will live beyond their incomes, — they suffer much more 
than the beggars in the street who make frequently more than 
a pound a day by mere whining and snivelling. The critics 
are much more in evil case than the beggars — i^w of them 
make even a pound a day, and of course they regard as their 
natural enemies the authors who make thirty to fifty pounds a 
week. I assure you I am very sorry for critics all round, — 
they are the least-regarded and worst-rewarded of all the lit- 
erary community. And I never bother myself at all about 
what they say of me, except as I before observed, when in 
their haste they tell lies, — then of course it becomes necessary 
for me to state the truth in simple self-defence as well as by 
way of duty to my public. But as a rule I hand over all my 
press-notices to Tricksy there," — indicating the minute York- 
shire terrier who followed closely at the edge of her white 
gown, — ''and he tears them to indistinguishable shreds in 
about three minutes ! ' ' 


She laughed merrily, and Sibyl smiled, watching her with 
the same wonder and admiration that had been expressed in 
her looks more or less since the beginning of our interview 
with this light-hearted possessor of literary fame. We were 
now walking towards the gate preparatory to taking our 

''May I come and talk to you sometimes?" my wife said 
suddenly, in her prettiest and most pleading voice. " It 
would be such a privilege!" 

"You can come whenever you like in the afternoons," 
replied Mavis readily. ''The mornings belong to a goddess 
more dominant even than Beauty, — Work !" 

"You never work at night?" I asked. 

"Indeed no! I never turn the ordinances of Nature up- 
side down, as I am sure I should get the worst of it if I made 
such an attempt. The night is for sleep, and I use it thank- 
fully for that blessed purpose." 

" Some authors can only write at night though," I said. 

" Then you may be sure they only produce blurred pictures 
and indistinct characterization," said Mavis. " Some I know 
there are, who invite inspiration through gin, or opium, as 
well as through the midnight influences, but I do not be- 
lieve in such methods. Morning and a freshly rested brain 
are required for literary labour, — that is, if one wants to 
write a book that will last for more than one ' season.' " 

She accompanied us to the gate, and stood under the porch, 
her big dog beside her and the roses waving high over her 

"At anyrate, work agrees with you," said Sibyl, fixing 
upon her a long, intent, almost envious gaze. "You look 
perfectly happy. ' ' 

"I a7?i perfectly happy," she answered, smiling. "I have 
nothing in all the world to wish for, except that I may die as 
peacefully as I have lived." 

" May that day be far distant !" I said earnestly. 

She raised her soft meditative eyes to mine. 


''Thank you!" she responded gently. ''But I do not 
mind when it comes, so long as it finds me ready." 

She waved her hand to us as we left her and turned the 
corner of the lane, — and for some minutes w^e walked on 
slowly in absolute silence. Then at last Sibyl spoke — 

'*! quite understand the hatred there is in some quarters 
for Mavis Clare," she said. ''I am afraid I begin to hate 
her myself !" 

I stopped and stared at her, astonished and confounded. 

*'You begin to hate her — you? — and why?" 

** Are you so blind that you cannot perceive why?" she re- 
torted, the little malign smile I knew so well playing round 
her lips. '' Because she is happy ! Because she has no scan- 
dals in her life, and because she dares to be content ! One 
longs to make her miserable ! But how to do it ? She be- 
lieves in a God, — she thinks all He ordains is right and 
good. With such a firm faith as that, she would be happy 
in a garret earning but a few pence a day. I see now per- 
fectly how she has won her public, — it is by the absolute 
conviction she has herself of the theories of life she tries to 
instil. What can be done against her ? Nothing ! But I 
understand why the critics would like to ' quash' her, — if I 
were a critic, fond of whisky-and-soda and music-hall w^omen, 
I should like to quash her myself for being so different to the 
rest of her sex." 

''What an incomprehensible woman you are, Sibyl!" I 
exclaimed with real irritation. " You admire Miss Clare's 
books, — you have always admired them, — you have asked her 
to become your friend, — and almost in the same breath you 
aver you would like to ' quash' her or to make her miserable. 
I confess I cannot understand you !" 

" Of course you cannot!" she responded tranquilly, her 
eyes resting upon me with a curious expression, as we paused 
for an instant under the deep shade of a chestnut tree before 
entering our own grounds. " I never supposed you could, 
and, unlike the ordinary femme incomprise^ I have never 



blamed you for your want of comprehension. It has taken 
me some time to understand myself, and even now I am not 
quite sure that I have gauged the depths or shallownesses of my 
own nature correctly. But on this matter of Mavis Clare, can 
you not imagine that badness may hate goodness ? That the 
confirmed drunkard may hate the sober citizen ? That the 
outcast may hate the innocent maiden ? And that it is pos- 
sible that I, — reading life as I do, and finding it loathsome in 
many of its aspects, — distrusting men and women utterly, — 
and being destitute of any faith in God, — may hate, — yes 
hate" — and she clenched her hand on a tuft of drooping leaves 
and scattered the green fragments at her feet — "a woman who 
finds life beautiful, and God existent, — who takes no part in 
our social shams and slanders, and who in place of my self- 
torturing spirit of analysis, has secured an enviable fame and 
the honour of thousands, allied to a serene content ? Why, 
it would be something worth living for to make such a woman 
wretched for once in her life ! — but as she is constituted it is 
impossible to do it." 

She turned from me and walked slowly onward, — I follow- 
ing in a pained silence. 

'' If you do not mean to be her friend, you should tell her 
so," I said presently. ''You heard what she said about pre- 
tended protestations of regard?" 

' ' I heard, ' ' she replied morosely. '' She is a clever woman, 
Geoffrey, and you may trust her to find me out without any 
explanation !" 

As she said this, I raised my eyes and looked full at her, — 
her exceeding beauty was becoming almost an agony to my 
sight, and in a sudden fool's paroxysm of despair I ex- 
claimed — 

*' Oh, Sibyl, Sibyl ! Why were you made as you are?" 

"Ah, why indeed?" she rejoined, with a faint mocking 
smile. " And why, being made as I am, was I born an Earl's 
daughter? If I had been an Arab of the street, I should 
have been in my proper place, — and novels would have been 



written about me, and plays, — and I might have become such 
a heroine as should cause all good men to weep for joy be- 
cause of my generosity in encouraging their vices ! But as 
an Earl's daughter, respectably married to a millionaire, I am 
a mistake of nature. Yet nature does make mistakes some- 
times, Geoffrey, and when she does they are generally irreme- 

We had now reached our own grounds, and I walked, in 
miserable mood, beside her across the lawn towards the house. 

" Sibyl," I said at last, " I had hoped you and Mavis Clare 
might be friends. ..." 

She laughed. 

** So we shall be friends, I daresay, — for a little while," she 
replied. " But the dove does not willingly consort with the 
raven, and Mavis Clare's way of life and studious habits 
would be to me insufferably dull. Besides, as I said before, 
she, as a clever woman and a thinker, is too clear-sighted not 
to find me out in the course of time. But I will play hum- 
bug as long as I can. If I perform the part of ' county lady' 
or 'patron,' of course she won't stand me for a moment. I 
shall have to assume a much more difficult role, — that of an 
honest w^oman." 

Again she laughed, — a cruel little laugh that chilled my 
blood, and paced slowly into the house through the open 
windows of the drawing-room. And I, left alone in the gar- 
den among the nodding roses and waving trees, felt that the 
beautiful domain of Willowsmere had suddenly grown hideous 
and bereft of all its former charm, and was nothing but a 
haunted house of desolation, — haunted by an all-dominant 
and ever victorious Spirit of Evil. 



One of the strangest things in all the strange course of our 
human life is perhaps the suddenness of certain unlooked-for 
events, which, in a day or even an hour, may work utter devas- 
tation where there has been more or less peace, and hopeless 
ruin where there has been comparative safety. Like the shock 
of an earthquake, the clamorous incidents thunder in on the 
regular routine of ordinary life, crumbling down our hopes, 
breaking our hearts, and scattering our pleasures into the dust 
and ashes of despair. And this kind of destructive trouble 
generally happens in the midst of apparent prosperity without 
the least warning, and with all the abrupt fierceness of a desert- 
storm. It is constantly made manifest to us in the unexpected 
and almost instantaneous downfall of certain members of 
society who have held their heads proudly above their com- 
peers and have presumed to pose as examples of light and 
leading to the whole community ; we see it in the capricious 
fortunes of kings and statesmen who are in favour one day 
and disgraced the next, and vast changes are wrought with 
such inexplicable quickness that it is scarcely wonderful to 
hear of certain religious sects who, when everything is pros- 
pering more than usually well with them, make haste to put 
on garments of sackcloth and cast ashes on their heads, praying 
aloud, *' Prepare us, O Lord, for the evil days which are at 
hand!" The moderation of the Stoics, who considered it 
impious to either rejoice or grieve, and strove to maintain an 
equable middle course between the opposing elements of sorrow 
and joy, without allowing themselves to be led away by over- 
much delight or over-much melancholy, was surely a wise habit 
of temperament. I, who lived miserably as far as my inner 
and better consciousness was concerned, was yet outwardly 
satisfied with the material things of life and the luxuries sur- 
rounding me, — and I began to take comfort in these things, 


and with them endeavoured to quell and ignore my subtle 
griefs, succeeding so far in that I became more and more of a 
thorough materialist every day, loving bodily ease, appetizing 
food, costly wine and personal indulgence to a degree that 
robbed me gradually of even the desire for mental effort. I 
taught myself, moreover, almost insensibly to accept and 
tolerate what I knew of the wanton side of my wife's character, 
— true, I respected her less than the Turk respects the creature 
of his harem, — but like the Turk I took a certain savage satis- 
faction in being the possessor of her beauty ; and with this 
feeling and the brute passion it engendered, I was fain to be 
content. So that for a short time at least, the drowsy satis- 
faction of a well-fed, well-mated animal was mine, — I fancied 
that nothing short of a stupendous financial catastrophe to the 
country itself could exhaust my stock of cash, — and that 
therefore there was no necessity for me to exert myself in any 
particular branch of usefulness, but simply to * eat, drink and 
be merry' as Solomon advised. Intellectual activity was para- 
lyzed in me, — to take up my pen and write, and make another 
and higher bid for fame, was an idea that now never entered 
my mind ; I spent my days in ordering about my servants and 
practising the petty pleasures of tyranny on gardeners and 
grooms, and in generally giving myself airs of importance 
mingled with an assumption of toleration and benevolence 
for the benefit of all those in my employ. I knew the proper 
thing to do, well enough ! — I had not studied the ways of 
the over-wealthy for nothing. I was aware that the rich man 
never feels so thoroughly virtuous as when he has inquired 
after the health of his coachman's wife and has sent her a 
couple of pounds for the outfit of her new-born baby. The 
much-prated-of ' kindness of heart' and ' generosity' possessed 
by millionaires generally amounts to this kind of thing, — and 
when, if idly strolling about my park-lands, I happened to 
meet the small child of my lodge-keeper and then and 
there bestowed sixpence upon it, I almost felt as if I de- 
served a throne in Heaven at the right hand of the Almighty, 


so great was my appreciation of my own good-nature. 
Sibyl, however, never affected this sort of county-magnate 
beneficence. She did nothing at all among our poor 
neighbours ; — the clergyman of the district unfortunately 
happened to let slip one day a few words to the effect that 
''there was no great want of anything among his parish- 
ioners, owing to the continual kindness and attention of Miss 
Clare," — and Sibyl never from that moment proffered any 
assistance. Now and then she took her graceful person into 
' Lily Cottage' and sat with its happy and studious occupant 
for an hour, — and occasionally the fair author herself came 
and dined with us, or had ' afternoon tea' under the branching 
elms on the lawn, — but even I, intense egotist as I was, could 
see that Mavis was scarcely herself on these occasions. She 
was always charming and bright of course, — indeed the only 
times in which I was able to partially forget myself and the 
absurdly increasing importance of my personality in my own 
esteem, were when she, with her sweet voice and animated 
manner, brought her wide knowledge of books, men, and 
things to bear on the conversation, thus raising it to a higher 
level than was ever reached by my wife or me. Yet I now 
and then noticed a certain vague constraint about her, — and 
her frank eyes had frequently a pained and questioning look 
of trouble when they rested for any length of time on the 
enchanting beauty of Sibyl's face and form. I, however, paid 
little heed to these trifling matters, my whole care being to 
lose myself more and more utterly in the enjoyment of purely 
physical ease and comfort without troubling myself as to what 
such self-absorption might lead in the future. To be com- 
pletely without a conscience, without a heart and without 
sentiment was, I perceived, the best way to keep one's appetite 
and preserve one's health; — to go about worrying over the 
troubles of other people or put one's self out to do any good 
in the world, would involve such an expenditure of time and 
trouble as must inevitably spoil one's digestion, — and I saw 
that no millionaire or even moderately rich man cares to run 


the risk of injuring his digestion for the sake of performing 
a kindness to a poorer fellow-creature. Profiting by the 
examples presented to me everywhere in society, I took care 
of my digestion, and was particular about the way in which 
my meals were cooked and served, — particular too, as to the 
fashion in which my wife dressed for those meals, — for it 
suited my supreme humour to sse her beauty bedecked as 
suitably and richly as possible that I might have the satis- 
faction of considering her ' points' with the same epicurean 
fastidiousness as I considered a dish of truffles or specially 
prepared game. I never thought of the stern and absolute 
law — ''Unto whom much is given, even from him should 
much be required ;" — I was scarcely aware of it in fact, — the 
New Testament was of all books in the world the most un- 
familiar to me. And while I wilfully deafened myself to the 
voice of conscience, — that voice which ever and anon urged 
me in vain to a nobler existence, — the clouds were gathering, 
ready to burst above me with that terrific suddenness such as 
always seems to us who refuse to study the causes of our 
calamities, as astonishing and startling as death itself. For 
we are always more or less startled at death, notwithstanding 
that it is the commonest occurrence known. 

Towards the middle of September my ' royal and distin- 
guished' house-party arrived and stayed at Willowsmere Court 
for a week. Of course it is understood that whenever the 
Prince of Wales honours any private residence with a visit, 
he selects, if not all, at any rate the greater part of those 
persons who are to be invited to meet him. He did so in 
the present instance, and I was placed in the odd position 
of having to entertain certain people whom I had never met 
before, and who, with the questionable taste frequently ex- 
hibited among the 'upper ten,' looked upon me merely as 
"the man with the millions," the caterer for their provisions 
and no more, — directing their chief attention to Sibyl, who 
was by virtue of her birth and associations one of their 'set,' 
and pushing me, their host, more or less into the background. 


However, the glory of entertaining Royalty more than sufficed 
for my poor pride at that time, and with less self-respect than 
an honest cur I was content to be snubbed and harassed and 
worried a hundred times a day by one or the other of the 
' great' personages who wandered at will all over my house 
and grounds, and accepted my lavish hospitality. Many 
people imagine that it must be an ' honour' to entertain a 
select party of aristocrats, but I, on the contrary, consider 
that it is not only a degradation to one's manlier and more 
independent instincts, but also a bore. These highly-bred, 
highly-connected individuals, are for the most part unintelli- 
gent and devoid of resources in their own minds, — they are 
not gifted as conversationalists or wits, — one gains no intel- 
lectual advantage from their society, — they are simply dull 
folk with an exaggerated sense of their own importance, who 
expect, wherever they go, to be amused without trouble to 
themselves. Out of all the visitors at Willowsmere the only 
one whom it was really a pleasure to entertain was the Prince 
of Wales himself, — and amid the many personal irritations I 
had to suffer from others, I found it a positive relief to render 
him any attention, however slight, because his manner was 
always marked by that tact and courtesy which are the best 
attributes of a true gentleman whether he be prince or peasant. 
In his own genial way, he went one afternoon to see Mavis 
Clare, and came back in high good-humour, talking for some 
time of nothing but the author of ^Differences,' and of the 
success she had achieved in literature. I had asked Mavis to 
join our party before the Prince came, as I felt pretty sure he 
would not have erased her name from the list of guests sub- 
mitted to him, — but she would not accept, and begged me 
very earnestly not to press the point. 

'* I like the Prince," she had said. " Everybody likes him 
who knows him, — but I do not always like the people who 
surround him, — pardon me for my frankness ! The Prince 
of Wales is a social magnet, — he draws after him all who by 
dint of wealth if not intelligence can contrive to ' push' into 


his set. Now I am not an advocate of ' push' — moreover I 
do not care to be seen with 'everybody' ; — this is my sinful 
pride you will say, or as our American cousins would put it, 
my ' cussedness. ' But I assure you, Mr Tempest, the best 
possession I have and one which I value a great deal more 
even than my literary success, is my absolute independence, 
and I would not have it thought, even erroneously, that I ain 
anxious to mix wiih the crowd of sycophants and time-servers 
who are only too ready to take advantage of the Prince's good- 

And, acting upon her determination, she had remained 
more than ever secluded in her cottage-nest of foliage and 
flowers during the progress of the week's festivities, — the 
result being, as I have stated, that the Prince * dropped in' 
upon her quite casually one day, accompanied by his equerry, 
and probably, for all I knew, had the pleasure of seeing the 
dove ' reviewers' being fed, and squabbling over their meal. 

Much as we had desiied the presence of Rimanez at our 
gathering he did not appear. He telegraphed his regrets 
from Paris, and followed the telegram by a characteristic 
letter which ran thus : 

My dear Tempest, 

You are very kind to wish to include me, your old 
friend, in the party you have invited to meet His Royal High- 
ness, and I only hope you will not think me churlish for 
refusing to come. I am sick to death of Royalties, — I have 
known so many of them in the course of my existence that I 
begin to find their society monotonous. Their positions are 
all so e^xactly alike too, — and moreover have always been alike 
from the days of Solomon in all his glory, down to the present 
blessed era of Victoria, Queen and Empress. One thirsts for 
a change ; at least I do. The only monarch that ever fasci- 
nated my imagination particularly was Richard Coeur deLion ; 
there was something original and striking about that man, and 
I presume he would have been well worth talking to. And 


Charlemagne was doubtless, as the slangey young man of the 
day would observe, * not half bad.' But for the rest, — luifico ! 
Much talk is there made about Her Majesty Elizabeth, who 
was a shrew and a vixen and blood-thirsty withal, — the chief 
glory of her reign was Shakespeare, and he made kings and 
queens the dancing puppets of his thought. In this, though 
in nothing else, I resemble him. You will have enough to do 
in the entertainment of your distinguished guests, for I suppo e 
there is no amusement they have not tried and found more or 
less unsatisfactory, and I am sorry I can suggest nothing par- 
ticularly new for you to do. Her Grace the Duchess of 
Rapidryder is very fond of being tossed in a strong table-cloth 
between four able-bodied gentlemen of good birth and dis- 
cretion, before going to bed o' nights, — she cannot very well 
appear on a music-hall stage you know, owing to her exalted 
rank, — and this is a child-like, pretty and harmless method 
of managing to show her legs, which she rightly considers, are 
too shapely to be hidden. Lady Bouncer, whose name I see 
in your list, always likes to cheat at cards, — I would aid and 
abet her in her aim if I were you, as if she can only clear her 
dressmaker's bill by her winnings at Willowsmere, she will 
bear it in mind and be a useful social friend to you. The 
Honourable Miss Fitz-Gander, who has a great reputation for 
virtue, is anxious, for pressing and particular reasons, to marry 
Lord Noodles, — if you can move on matters between them 
into a definite engagement of marriage before her lady-mother 
returns from her duty-visits in Scotland, you will be doing her 
a good turn and saving society a scandal. To amuse the men 
I suggest plenty of shooting, gambling and unlimited smoking. 
To entertain the Prince, do little, — for he is clever enough 
to entertain himself privately with the folly and humbug of 
those he sees around him, without actually sharing in the 
petty comedy. He is a keen observer, — and must derive 
infinite gratification from his constant study of men and 
manners, which is sufficiently deep and searching to fit him 
for the occupation of even the throne of England. I say 



*even,' for at present, till Time's great hour-glass turns, it is 
the grandest throne in the world. The Prince reads, under- 
stands, and secretly laughs to scorn the table-cloth vagaries of 
the Duchess of Rapidryder, the humours of my Lady Bouncer 
and the nervous pruderies of the Honourable Miss Fitz-Gan- 
der. And there is nothing he will appreciate so much in his 
reception as a lack of toadyism, a sincere demeanour, an un- 
ostentatious hospitality, a simplicity of speech, and a total 
absence of affectation. Remember this, and take my advice 
for what it is worth. Of all the Royalties at present flourish- 
ing on this paltry planet, I have the greatest respect for the 
Prince of Wales, and it is by reason of this very respect that 
I do not intend, on this occasion, to thrust myself upon his 
notice. I shall arrive at W^illowsmere when your * royal' 
festivities are over. My homage to your fair spouse, the Lady 
Sibyl, and believe me, 

Yours as long as you desire it, 

Lucio Rlmanez. 

I laughed over this letter and showed it to my wife, who 
did not laugh. She read it through with a closeness of atten- 
tion that somewhat surprised me, and when she laid it down 
there was a strange look of pain in her eyes. 

'' How he despises us all !" she said slowly. '^ What scorn 
underlies his words ! Do you not recognise it?" 

'*He was always a cynic," I replied indifferently. ''I 
never expect him to be anything else." 

" He seems to know some of the ways of the women who 
are coming here," she went on in the same musing accents. 
" It is as if he read their thoughts, and perceived their 
intentions at a distance." 

Her brows knitted frowningly, and she seemed for some 
time absorbed in gloomy meditation. But I did not pursue 
the subject, — I was too intent on my own fussy preparations 
for the Prince's arrival to care about anything else. 

And, as I have said, Royalty, in the person of one of the 



most affable of men, came and went gracefully through the 
whole programme devised for his entertainment, and then 
departed again with his usual courteous acknowledgments for 
the hospitality offered and accepted, — leaving us, as he very 
often leaves everybody, charmed with his good-humour, pro- 
vided that nothing has ruffled it. When, with his exit from 
the scene, the whole party broke up, leaving my wife and me 
to our own two selves once more, there came a strange silence 
and desolation over the house that was like the stealthy sense 
of some approaching calamity. Sibyl seemed to feel it as 
much as I did, and though we said nothing to each other 
concerning our mutual sensations, I could see that she was 
under the same cloud of depression as myself. She went 
oftener to ' Lily Cottage,' and always from these visits to the 
fair-haired student among the roses, came back, I hopefully- 
fancied in softer mood, — her very voice was gentler, — her 
eyes more thoughtful and tender. One evening she said — 

" I have been thinking, Geoffrey, that perhaps there is some 
good in life after all, if I could only find it out and live it. 
But you are the last person to help me in such a matter." 

I was sitting in an arm-chair near the open window, smok- 
ing, and I turned my eyes upon her with some astonishment 
and a touch of indignation. 

" What do you mean, Sibyl ?" I asked. ^' Surely you know 
that I have the greatest desire to see you always in your best 
aspect, — many of your ideas have been most repugnant to 
me ..." 

"Stop there!" she said quickly, her eyes flashing as she 
spoke. "My ideas have been repugnant to you, you say? 
What have you done, you as my husband, to change those 
ideas? Have you not the same base passions as I? — and 
do you not give way to them as basely ? What have I seen 
in you from day to day that I should take you as an ex- 
ample? You are master here, and you rule with all the 
arrogance wealth can give, — you eat, drink and sleep, — you 
entertain your acquaintances simply that you may astonish 


them by the excess of hixury in which you indulge, — you 
read and smoke, shoot and ride, and there an end, — you are 
an ordinary, not an exceptional man. Do you trouble to 
ask what is wrong with me ? — do you try, with the patience 
of a great love, to set before me nobler aims than those I 
have consciously or unconsciously imbibed? — do you try to 
lead me, an erring, passionate, misguided woman, into what 
I dream of as the light, — the light of faith and hope which 
alone gives peace ?' ' 

And suddenly, burying her head in the pillows of the 
couch on which she leaned, she broke into a fit of smothered 

I drew my cigar from my mouth and stared at her helplessly. 
It was about an hour after dinner, and a warm soft autumnal 
evening. I had eaten and drunk well, and I was drowsy and 

**Dear me !" I murmured — ''you seem very unreasonable, 
Sibyl ! I suppose you are hysterical . . ." 

She sprang up from the couch, her tears dried on her 
cheeks as though by sheer heat of the crimson glow that 
flushed them, and she laughed wildly. 

"Yes, that is it!" she exclaimed. "Hysteria! — nothing 
else ! It is accountable for everything that moves a woman's 
nature. A woman has no right to have any emotions that 
cannot be cured by smelling-salts I Heart-ache ? — pooh ! — 
cut her stay-lace ! Despair and a sense of sin and misery ? — 
nonsense ! — bathe her temples with vinegar ! An uneasy con- 
science ?— ah ! — for an uneasy conscience there is nothing 
better than sal volatile ! Woman is a toy, — a breakable 
fool's toy; — and when she is broken, throw her aside and 
have done with her, — don't try to piece together the fragile 

She ceased abruptly, panting for breath, and before I could 
collect my thoughts or find any words wherewith to reply, a 
tall shadow suddenly darkened the embrasure of the window, 
and a familiar voice inquired — 


''May I, with the privilege of friendship, enter unan- 
nounced ?" 

I started up. 

" Rimanez !" I cried, seizing him by the hand. 

"Nay, Geoffrey, my homage is due here first," he replied, 
shaking off my grasp, and advancing to Sibyl, who stood per- 
fectly still where she had risen up in her strange passion. 
"Lady Sibyl, am I welcome?" 

" Can you ask it !" she said, with an enchanting smile, and 
in a voice from which all harshness and excitement had fled. 
" More than welcome !" Here she gave him both her hands, 
which he respectfully kissed. "You cannot imagine how 
much I have longed to see you again ! ' ' 

"I must apologize for my sudden appearance, Geoffrey," 
he then observed, turning to me. "But as I walked here 
from the station and came up your fine avenue of trees, I was 
so struck with the loveliness of this place and the exquisite 
peace of its surroundings, that, knowing my way through the 
grounds, I thought I would just look about and see if you 
were anywhere within sight before I presented myself at the 
conventional door of entrance. And I was not disappointed, 
— I found you, as I expected, enjoying each other's society, — 
the happiest and most fortunate couple existent, — people 
whom, out of all the world, I should be disposed to envy, if I 
envied worldly happiness at all, which I do not." 

I glanced at him quickly ;— he met my gaze with a perfectly 
unembarrassed air, and I concluded that he had not overheard 
Sibyl's sudden melodramatic outburst. 

"Have you dined?" I asked, with my hand on the 

"Thanks, yes. The town of Leamington provided me with 
quite a sumptuous repast of bread and cheese and ale. I am 
tired of luxuries you know, — that is why I find plain fare de- 
licious. You are looking wonderfully well, Geoffrey ! — shall 
I offend you if I say you are growing — yes — positively stout? 
— with the stoutness befitting a true county gentleman who 



means to be as gouty in the future as his respectable ances- 

I smiled, but not altogether with pleasure; it is never agree- 
able to be called ' stout' in the presence of a beautiful woman 
to whom one has only been wedded a matter of three months. 

''You have not put on any extra flesh," I said, by way of 
feeble retort. 

"No," he admitted, as he disposed his slim elegant figure 
in an arm-chair near my own. "The necessary quantity of 
flesh is a bore to me always, — extra flesh would be a positive 
infliction. I should like, as the irreverent tliough reverend 
Sidney Smith said on a hot day, 'to sit in my bones,' or 
rather, to become a spirit of fine essence like Shakespeare's 
Ariel, if such things were possible and permissible. How 
admirably married life agrees with, you, Lady Sibyl !" 

His fine eyes rested upon her with apparent admiration, — 
she flushed under his gaze I saw, and seemed confused. 

"When did you arrive in England?" she inquired. 

"Yesterday," he answered. "I ran over Channel from 
Honfleur in my yacht, — you did not know I had a yacht, 
did you. Tempest ? — oh, you must come for a trip in her 
some day. She is a quick vessel, and the weather was fair." 

"Is Amiel with you?" I asked. 

" No. I left him on board the yacht. I can, as the com- 
mon people say, 'valet myself for a day or two." 

"A day or two?" echoed Sibyl. "But you surely will 
not leave us so soon ? You promised to make a long visit 

" Did I?" and he regarded her steadily, with the same lan- 
guorous admiration in his eyes. " But, my dear Lady Sibyl, 
time alters our ideas, and I am not sure whether you and your 
excellent husband are of the same opinion as you were 
when you started on your wedding-tour. You may not want 
me now !" 

He said this wilh a significance to which I paid no heed 


*' Not want you !" I exclaimed. " I shall always want you, 
Lucio, — you are the best friend I ever had, and the only 
one I care to keep. Believe me ! — there's my hand upon 

He looked at me curiously for a minute, — then turned his 
head towards my wife. 

''And what does Lady Sibyl say?" he asked in a gentle, 
almost caressing tone. 

''Lady Sibyl says," she answered with a smile, and the 
colour coming and going in her cheeks, " that she will be 
proud and glad if you will consider Willowsmere your home 
as long as you have leisure to make it so, — and that she 
hopes, — though you are reputed to be a hater of women," — 
here she raised her beautiful eyes and fixed them full upon 
him, — "you will relent a little in favour of your present 
chatelaine 1" 

With these words, and a playful salutation, she passed out 
of the room into the garden, and stood on the lawn at a 
little distance from us, her white robes shimmering in the 
mellow autumnal twilight, — and Lucio, springing up from his 
seat, looked after her, clapping his hand down heavily on my 

"By Heaven!" he said softly, "a perfect woman! I 
should be a churl to withstand her, — or you, my good Geof- 
frey,"— and he regarded me earnestly. " I have led a very 
devil of a life since I saw you last, — it's time I reformed, — 
upon my soul it is ! The peaceful contemplation of virtuous 
marriage will do me good; — send for my luggage to the sta- 
tion, Geoffrey, and make the best of me, — I've come to stay f 



A TRANQUIL time now ensued ; a time which, though I 
knew it not, was just that singular pause so frequently observed 
in nature before a storm, and in human life before a crush- 
ing calamity. I put aside all troublesome and harassing 
thoughts, and became oblivious of everything save my own 
personal satisfaction in the renewal of the comradeship be- 
tween myself and Lucio. We walked together, rode together, 
and passed most of our days in each other's company ; never- 
theless, though I gave my friend much of my closest confi- 
dence I never spoke to him of the moral obliquities and per- 
versions I had discovered in Sibyl's character, — not out of any 
consideration for Sibyl, but simply because I knew by instinct 
what his reply would be. He would have no sympathy with 
my feelings. His keen sense of sarcasm would over-rule his 
friendship, and he would retort upon me with the question, 
What business had I, being imperfect myself, to expect per- 
fection in my wife ? Like many others of my sex I had tlie 
notion that I, as man, could do all I pleased, when I pleased 
and how I pleased ; I could sink to a level lower than that of 
the beasts if I chose, — but all the same I had the right to de- 
mand from my wife the most flawless purity, to mate with my 
defilement. I was aware how Lucio would treat this form of 
arrogant egoism, and with what mocking laughter he would 
receive any expression of ideas from me on the subject of mo- 
lality in woman. So I was careful to let no hint of my actual 
l)Osition escape me, and I comported myself on all occasions 
to Sibyl with special tenderness and consideration, though 
she, I thought, appeared rather to resent my playing the part 
of lover-husband too openly. She was herself, in Lucio's 
presence, strangely erratic of humour, by turns brilliant and 
mournful, sometimes merry, and anon depressed : yet never 
had she displayed a more captivating grace and charm of 


manner. How foolish and blind I was all the while ! — how 
dead to any perception of the formation and sequence of 
events ! Absorbed in gross material pleasures, I ignored all 
the hidden forces that make the history of an individual life 
no less than of a whole nation, and looked upon each day 
that dawned almost as if it had been my own creation and 
possession, to waste as I thought fit, — never considering that 
days are but so many white leaflets from God's chronicle of 
human life, whereon we place our mark, good or bad, for the 
just and exact summing-up of our thoughts and deeds here- 
after. Had any one dared to say this truth to me then, I 
should have bade him go and preach nonsense to children, — 
but now, when I recall those white leaves of days that were 
unrolled before me fresh and blank with every sunrise, and 
with which I did nothing save scrawl my own Ego in a foul 
smudge across each one, I tremble, and inwardly pray that I 
may never be forced to send back my self-written record. 
Yet of what use is it to pray against eternal Law ? It is 
eternal Law that we shall ourselves count up our own mis- 
deeds at the final reckoning, — hence it is no wonder that 
many are found who prefer not to believe in a future after 
death. Rightly do such esteem it better to die utterly than 
be forced to live again and look back upon the wilful evil they 
have done ! 

October ripened slowly and almost imperceptibly towards 
its end, and the trees put on their gorgeous autumnal tints of 
burning crimson and gold. The weather remained fine and 
warm, and what the French Canadians poetically term the 
' Summer of all Saints' gave us bright days and cloudless 
moonlit evenings. The air was so mild that we were always 
able to take our coffee after dinner on the terrace overlooking 
the lawn in front of the drawing-room, — and it was on one 
of these balmy nights that I was the interested spectator of a 
strange scene between Lucio and Mavis Clare, — a scene I 
should have thought impossible of occurrence had I not my- 
self witnessed it. Mavis had dined at Willowsmere ; she very 


rarely so honoured us ; and there were a few other guests 
besides. We had lingered over the coffee longer than usual, 
for Mavis had given an extra charm to the conversation by her 
eloquent vivacity and bright humour, and all present were 
anxious to hear, see and know as much of the brilliant nov- 
elist as possible. But when a full golden moon rose in mellow 
splendour over the tree-tops, my wife suggested a stroll in the 
grounds, and everyone agreeing to the proposal with delight, 
we started, — more or less together, — some in couples, some 
in groups of three or four. After a little desultory rambling, 
however, the party got separated in the rose-gardens and adja- 
cent shrubberies, and I found myself alone. I turned back to 
the house to get my cigar-case which I had left on a table in 
the library, and passing out again in another direction I strolled 
slowly across the grass, smoking as I went, towards the river, 
the silver gleam of which could clearly be discerned through 
the fast-thinning foliage overhanging its banks. I had almost 
reached the path that followed the course of the winding water 
when I was brought to a standstill by the sound of voices, — 
one a man's, low and persuasive, — the other a woman's, 
tender, grave and somewhat tremulous. Neither voice could 
be mistaken ; I recognised Lucio's rich penetrating tones, and 
the sweet vidfa^ite accents of Mavis Clare. Out of sheer sur- 
prise I paused, — had Lucio fallen in love, I wondered, half- 
smiling? — was I about to discover that the supposed Svoman- 
hater' had been tamed and caught at last? By Mavis too ! — 
little Mavis, who was not beautiful according to accepted 
standards, but who had something more than beauty to en- 
ravish a proud and unbelieving soul. Here, as my thoughts 
ran on, I was conscious of a foolish sense of jealousy, — why 
should he choose Mavis, I thought, out of all women in the 
world? Could he not leave her in peace wiih her dreams, 
her books and her flowers ? — safe under the pure, wise, im- 
passive gaze of Pallas Athene, whose cool brows were never 
fevered by a touch of passion ? Something more than curi- 
osity now impelled me to listen, and I cautiously advanced a 


step or two towards the shadow of a broad ehii where I could 
see without being seen. Yes, there was Rimanez, standing- 
erect with folded arms, his dark, sad, inscrutable eyes fixed 
on Mavis, who stood opposite to him a few paces off, looking 
at him in her turn with an expression of mingled fascination 
and fear. 

" I have asked you, Mavis Clare," said Lucio slowly, " to 
let me serve you. You have genius, — a rare quality in a 
woman, — and I would advance your fortunes. I should not 
be what I am if I did not try to persuade you to let me help 
on your career. You are not rich, — I could show you how 
to become so. You have a great fame — that I grant ; but you 
have many enemies and slanderers who are for ever trying to 
pull you down from the throne you have won. I could bring 
these to your feet and make them your slaves. With your intel- 
lectual power, your personal grace and gifts of temperament, I 
could, if you would let me guide you, give you such far-reach- 
ing influence, as no woman has possessed in this century. I 
am no boaster, — I can do what I say and more ; and I ask 
nothing from you in return except that you should follow my 
advice implicitly. My advice, let me tell you, is not difficult 
to follow ; most people find it easy ! ' ' 

His expression of face, I thought, was very singular as he 
spoke, — it was so haggard, dreary and woe-begone that one 
might have imagined he was making some proposal that was 
particularly repugnant to him, instead of offering to perform 
the benevolent action of helping a hard-working literary 
woman to achieve greater wealth and distinction. I waited 
expectantly for Mavis to reply. 

''You are very good. Prince Rimanez," she said, after a 
little pause, '' to take any thought for me at all. I cannot 
imagine why you should do so ; for I am really nothing to 
you. I have of course heard from Mr Tempest of your great 
wealth and influence, and I have no doubt you mean kindly. 
But I have never owed anything to any one, — no one has ever 
helped me, — I have helped myself, and still prefer to do so. 


And really 1 have nothing to wish for, — except — when the time 
comes — a happy death. It is true I am not rich, — but then 1 
do not want to be rich. I would not be the possessor of 
wealth for all the world ! To be surrounded with sycophants 
and flatterers, — never to be able to distinguish false friends 
from true, — to be loved for what you have, and not for what 
you are I — oh no, it would be misery to me ! And I have 
never craved for power, — except perhaps the power to win 
love. And that I have, — many people love my books, and 
through my books love me, — I feel their love, though I 
may never see or know them personally. But I am so con- 
scious of their sympathy that I love them in return without 
the necessity of personal acquaintance. They have hearts 
which respond to my heart, — that is all the power I care 

''You forget your numerous enemies!" said Lucio, still 
morosely regarding her. 

''No, I do not forget them," she returned, "But I forgive 
them. They can do me no harm. As long as I do not lower 
myself, no one else can lower me. If my own conscience is 
clear, no reproaches can wound. My life is open to all, — 
people can see how I live and what I do. I try to do well, — 
but if there are those who think I do ill, I am sorry, and if 
my faults can be amended I shall be glad to amend them. 
Ohc must have enemies in this world, — that is, if one makes 
any sort of position, — people without enemies are generally 
nonentities. All who succeed in winning some little place of 
independence must expect the grudging enmity of hundreds 
who cannot find even the smallest foothold, and are therefore 
failures in the battle of life, — I pity these sincerely, and when 
they say or write cruel things of me, I know it is only spleen 
and disappointment that moves both their tongues and pens, 
and I freely pardon them. They cannot hurt or hinder me, — 
in fact, no one can hurt or hinder me but myself." 

I heard the trees rustle slightly, — a branch cracked, — and 
peering through the leaves I saw that Lucio had advanced a 


step closer to where Mavis stood. A faint smile was on his 
face, softening it wonderfully and giving an almost supernat- 
ural light to his beautiful dark features. 

" Fair philosopher, you are almost a feminine Marcus Aure- 
lius in your estimate of men and things," he said; ''but — 
you are still a woman — and there is one thing lacking to your 
life of sublime and calm contentment — a thing at whose touch 
philosophy fails, and wisdom withers at its root. Love, Mavis 
Clare ! — lover's love, devoted love, blindly passionate, — this 
has not been yours as yet to win. No heart beats against your 
own, — no tender arms caress you, — you are alone ! Men are 
for the most part afraid of you, — being brute fools themselves, 
they like their women to be brute fools also, — and they grudge 
you your keen intellect, — your serene independence. Yet 
which is best ? — the adoration of a brute fool, or the loneli- 
ness pertaining to a spirit aloft on some snowy mountain-peak, 
with no companions but the stars ? Think of it ! — the years 
will pass, and you must needs grow old, — and with the years 
will come that solitary neglect which makes age bitter. Now, 
you will doubtless wonder at my words — yet believe me I speak 
the truth when I say that I can give you love — not my love, 
for I love none, — but I can bring to your feet the proudest 
men in any country of the world as suitors for your hand. 
You shall have your choice of them and your own time for 
choosing, — and whomsoever you love, him you shall wed, . . . 
why — what is wrong with you that you shrink from me thus?" 

For she had retreated, and was gazing at him in a kind of 

''You terrify me I" she faltered, — and as the moonlight 
fell upon her I could see that she was very pale. "Such 
promises are incredible— impossible ! You speak as if you 
were more than human ! I do not understand you, Prince 
Rimanez, — you are different to anyone I ever met, and . . . 
and , . . something in me stronger than myself warns me 
against you. What are you ? — why do you talk to me so 
strangely? Pardon me if I seem ungrateful . . . oh, let 


us go in — it is getting quite late 1 am sure, and I am 
cold ..." 

She trembled violently, and caught at the branch of a tree 
to steady herself, — Rimanez stood immovably still, regarding 
her with a fixed and almost mournful gaze. 

*' You say my life is lonely, " she went on reluctantly, and 
with a note of pathos in her sweet voice, " and you suggest 
love and marriage as the only joys that can make a woman 
happy. You may be right. I do not presume to assert that 
you are wrong. I have many married women friends — but I 
would not change my lot with any one of them. I have 
dreamed of love, — but because I have not realized my dream 
I am not the less content. If it is God's will that I should 
be alone all my days, I shall not murmur, for my solitude 
is not actual loneliness. Work is a good comrade, — then I 
have books, and flowers and birds, — I am never really lonely. 
And that I shall fully realize my dream of love one day I am 
sure, — if not here, then hereafter. I can wait !" 

As she spoke she looked up to the placid heavens where one 
or two stars twinkled through the arching boughs, — her face 
expressed angelic confidence and perfect peace, — and Rimanez 
advancing a step or two, fully confronted her with a strange 
light of exultation in his eyes. 

" True, — you can wait, Mavis Clare !" he said in deep clear 
tones from which all sadness had fled. ** You can afford to 
wait ! Tell me, — think for a moment, — can you remember 
me ? Is there a time on which you can look back, and look- 
ing, see my face, not here but elsewhere? Think! Did 
you ever see me long ago — in a far sphere of beauty and light, 
when you were an Angel, Mavis, — and I was — not what I am 
now ! How you tremble ! You need not fear me, — I would 
not harm you for a thousand worlds ! I talk wildly at times, 
I know ; — [ think of things that are past, — long, long past, — 
and I am filled with regrets that burn my soul with fiercer 
heat than fire. And so neither world's wealth, world's power, 
nor world's love will tempt you. Mavis ! — and you, — a woman ! 


You are a living miracle then, — as miraculous as the drop of 
undefiled dew which reflects in its tiny circumference all the 
colours of the sky, and sinks into the earth sweetly, carrying 
moisture and refreshment where it falls ! I can do nothing 
for you — you will not have my aid — you reject my service? 
Then as I may not help you, you must help ?ne /" — and drop- 
ping before her, he reverently took her hand and kissed it. 
" I ask a very little thing of you ; pray for me ! I know you 
are accustomed to pray, so it will be no trouble to you, — you 
believe God hears you, — and when I look at you, / believe it 
too. Only a pure woman can make faith possible to man. Pray 
for me then, as one who has fallen from his higher and better 
self, — who strives, but who may not attain, — who labours 
under heavy punishment, — who would fain reach Heaven, 
but who by the cursed will of man, and man alone, is kept 
in Hell. Pray for me. Mavis Clare ! promise it ! — and so 
shall you lift me a step nearer the glory I have lost !" 

I listened, petrified with amazement. Could this be Lucio? 
— the mocking, careless, cynical scoffer I knew, as I thought, 
so well ? — was it really he who knelt thus like a repentant 
sinner, abasing his proud head before a woman ? I saw Mavis 
release her hand from his, the while she stood looking down 
upon him in alarm and bewilderment. Presently she spoke 
in sweet yet tremulous accents — 

*' Since you desire it so earnestly, I promise," she said. 
*' I will pray that the strange and bitter sorrow which seems 
to consume you may be removed from your life " 

** Sorrow!" he echoed, interrupting her and springing to 
his feet with an impassioned gesture. ''Woman, — genius, — 
angel, — whatever you are, do not speak of one sorrow for me 1 
I have a thousand thousand sorrows ! — aye a million million, 
that are as little flames about my heart, and as deeply seated 
as the centres of the universe ! The foul and filthy crimes of 
men, — the base deceits and cruelties of women, — the ruthless, 
murderous ingratitude of children, — the scorn of good, the 
martyrdom of intellect, the selfishness, the avarice, the sensu- 



ality of human life, the hideous blasphemy and sin of the 
creature to the Creator, — these are my endless sorrows ! — 
these keep me wretched and in chains when I would fain 
be free. These create hell around me, and endless torture, 
— these bind and crush me and pervert my being till I be- 
come what I dare not name to myself or to others. And 
yet, ... as the eternal God is my witness, ... I do not 
think I am as bad as the worst man living ! I may tempt, 
but I do not pursue, — I take the lead in many lives, yet I 
make the way I go so plain that those who follow me do so by 
their own choice and free will more than by my persuasion !" 
He paused, — then continued in a softer tone — "You look 
afraid of me, — but be assured you never had less cause for 
terror. You have truth and purity — I honour both. You 
will have none of my advice or assistance in the making of 
your life's history, — to-night therefore we part, to meet no 
more on earth. Never again. Mavis Clare ! — no, not through 
all your quiet days of sweet and contented existence will I 
cross your path, — before Heaven I swear it !" 

*' But why?" asked Mavis gently, approaching him now as 
she spoke, with a soft grace of movement, and laying her hand 
on his arm — '' why do you speak with such a passion of self- 
reproach? What dark cloud is on your mind? Surely you 
have a noble nature, — and I feel that I have wronged you in 
my thoughts, . . . you must forgive me — I have mistrusted 
you " 

*' You do well to mistrust me !" he answered, and with these 
words he caught both her hands and held them in his own, 
looking at her full in the face with eyes that flashed like 
jewels. ** Your instinct teaches you rightly. Would there 
were many more like you to doubt me and repel me ! One 
word, — if, when I am gone, you ever think of me, think that 
I am more to be pitied than the veriest paralyzed and starving 
wretch that ever crawled on earth, — for he, perchance, has 
hope — and I have none. And when you pray for me, — for 
I hold you to this promise, — pray for one who dares not 


pray for himself. You know the words, * Lead us not into 
temptation but deliver us from evil' ? To-night you have 
been led into temptation, though you knew it not, but you 
have delivered yourself from evil as only a true soul can. 
And now farewell! In life I shall see you no more: — in 
death, — well, I have attended many death-beds in response 
to the invitations of the moribund, but I shall not be present 
at yours ! Perhaps, when your parting spirit is on the verge 
between darkness and light, you may know who I was and 
am, — and you may thank God with your last breath that we 
parted to-night — as we do now — forever I" 

He loosened his grasp of her, — she fell back from him, pale 
and terrified, — for there was something now in the dark beauty 
of his face that was unnatural and appalling. A sombre 
shadow clouded his brows, — his eyes had gleams in them as 
of fire, — and a smile was on his lips, half tender, half cruel. 
His strange expression moved even me to a sense of fear, and 
I shivered with sudden cold, though the air was warm and 
balmy. Slowly retreating. Mavis moved away, looking round 
at him now and then as she went, in wistful wonder and 
alarm, — till in a minute or two her slight figure, in its shim- 
mering silken white robe, had vanished among the trees. I 
lingered, hesitating and uncertain what to do, — then finally 
determining to get back to the house if possible without being 
noticed, I made one step, when Lucio's voice, scarcely raised, 
addressed me — 

'' Well, eavesdropper ! Why did you not come out of the 
shadow of that elm-tree and see the play to better advantage ?" 

Surprised and confused, I advanced, mumbling some unin- 
telligible excuse. 

'' You saw a pretty bit of acting here," he went on, striking 
a match and lighting a cigar the while he regarded me coolly, 
his eyes twinkling with their usual mockery. '' You know my 
theory, that all men and all women are purchasable for gold ? 
Well, I wanted to try Mavis Clare. She rejected all my ad- 
vantageous offers, as you must have heard, and I could only 




make matters smooth by asking her to pray for me. That 
I did this very melodramatically I hope you will admit ? A 
woman of that dreamy idealistic temperament always likes 
to imagine that there is a man who is grateful for her prayers !" 

*'You seemed very much in earnest about it!" I said, 
vexed with myself that he had caught me spying. 

''Why, of course!" he responded, thrusting his arm 
familiarly through mine. ''I had an audience! Two fas- 
tidious critics of dramatic art heard me rant my rantings, — 
I had to do my best !" 

''Two critics?" I repeated perplexedly. 

" Yes. You on one side, — Lady Sibyl on the other. Lady 
Sibyl rose, after the custom of fashionable beauties at the 
opera, before the last scene, in order to get home in good 
time for supper !" 

He laughed wildly and discordantly, and I felt desperately 

" You must be mistaken, Lucio," I said. " That /listened 
I admit, — and it was wrong of me to do so,— but my wife 
would never condescend ..." 

"Ah, then it must have been a sylph of the woods that 
glided out of the shadow with a silken train behind her and 
diamonds in her hair," he retorted gaily. "Tut, Geoffrey! 
— don't look so crestfallen. I have done with Mavis Clare 
and she with me. I have not been making love to her, — I 
have simply, just to amuse myself, tested her character, — and 
I find it stronger than I thought. The combat is over. She 
will never go my way, — nor, I fear, shall I ever go hers." 

"Upon my word, Lucio," I said with some irritation, 
"your disposition seems to grow more and more erratic and 
singular every day !" 

"Does it not!" he answered with a droll affectation of 
interested surprise in himself. " I am a curious creature alto- 
gether ! Wealth is mine and I care not a jot for it, — power is 
mine and I loathe its responsibility ; — in fact, I would rather 
be anything but what I am. Look at the lights of your ' home, 


sweet home,' Geoffrey!" this he said as we emerged from 
among the trees on to the moonlit lawn, from whence could be 
seen the shining of the electric lamps in the drawing-room. 
" Lady Sibyl is there, — an enchanting and perfect woman, who 
lives but to welcome you to her embracing arms ! P'ortunate 
man ! — who would not envy you ! Love ! — who would, who 
could exist without it — save me ! Who, in Europe at least, 
would forego the delights of kissing (which the Japanese by- 
the-bye consider a disgusting habit), without embraces, — and 
all those other endearments which are supposed to dignify the 
progress of true love ! One never tires of these things, — there 
is no satiety ! I wish I could love somebody ! ' ' 

'' So you can, if you like," I said, with a little uneasy laugh. 

'^1 cannot. It is not in me. You heard me tell Mavis 
Clare as much. I have it in my power to make other people 
fall in love, somewhat after the dexterous fashion practised by 
match-making mothers, — but for myself, love on this planet is 
too low a thing — too brief in duration. Last night, in a dream, 
— I have strange dreams at times, — I saw one whom possibly I 
could love, — but she was a Spirit, with eyes more lustrous than 
the morning, and a form as transparent as flame ; — she could 
sing sweetly, and I watched her soaring upwards and listened 
to her song. It was a wild song, and to many mortal ears 
meaningless, — it was something like this ..." and his rich 
baritone pealed lusciously forth in melodious tune — 

Into the Light, 

Into the heart of the fire, 
To the innermost core of the deathless flame 

I ascend, — I aspire ! 
Under me rolls the whirling Earth 
With the noise of a myriad wheels that run 

Ever round and about the sun, — 
Over me circles the splendid heaven 
Strewn with the stars of morn and even, 

And I a queen 

Of the air serene, 
Float with my flag-like wings unfurled, 
Alone — alone — "twixt God and the world ! 


Here he broke off with a laugh. ''She was a strange 
Spirit," he said, " because she could see nothing but herself 
* 'twixt God and the world. ' She was evidently quite unaware 
of the numerous existing barriers put up by mankind between 
themselves and their Maker. I wonder what unenlightened 
sphere she came from ! ' ' 

I looked at him in mingled wonder and impatience. 

"You talk wildly," I said. ''And you sing wildly, — of 
things that mean nothing and are nothing." 

He smiled, lifting his eyes to the moon, now shining her 
fullest and brightest. 

"True!" he replied. " Things which have meaning and 
are valuable, have all to do with money or appt^tite, Geoffrey ! 
There is no wider outlook evidently. But we were speaking 
of love, and I hold that love should be eternal as hate. Here 
you have the substance of my religious creed if I have any, — 
that there are two spiritual forces ruling the universe — love and 
hate, — and that their incessant quarrel creates the general con- 
fusion of life. Both contend one against the other, — and only 
at Judgment-Day will it be proved which is the strongest. 
I am on the side of Hate myself, — for at present Hate has 
scored all the victories worth winning, while Love has been 
so often martyred that there is only the poor ghost of it left 
on earth." 

At that moment my wife's figure appeared at the drawing- 
room window, and Lucio threw away his half-smoked cigar. 

"Your guardian-angel beckons!" he said, looking at me 
with an odd expression of something like pity mingled with 
disdain. " Let us go in." 



The very next night but one after Liicio's strange inter- 
view with Mavis Claie, the thunderbolt destined to wreck my 
life and humiliate me to the dust fell with appalling sudden- 
ness. No warning given ! — it came at a moment when I had 
dared to deem myself happy. All that day, — the last day I 
was ever to know of pride or self-gratulation, — I had enjoyed 
life to the full ; it was a day too in which Sibyl had seemed 
transformed to a sweeter gentler woman than I had hitherto 
known her, — when all her attractions of beauty and manner 
were apparently put forth to captivate and enthrall me as though 
she were yet to be wooed and won. Or, — did she mean to 
bewitch and subjugate Lucio? Of this I never thought, — 
never dreamed : — I only saw in my wife an enchantress of the 
most voluptuous and delicate loveliness, — a woman whose very 
garments seemed to cling to her tenderly as though proud of 
clothing so exquisite a form, — a creature whose every glance 
was brilliant, whose every smile was a ravishment, — and whose 
voice, attuned to the softest and most caressing tones appeared 
in its every utterance to assure me of a deeper and more last- 
ing love than I had yet enjoyed. The hours flew by on golden 
wings, — we all three, — Sibyl, myself and Lucio, — had at- 
tained, as I imagined, to a perfect unity of friendship and 
mutual understanding, — we had passed that last day together 
in the outlying \voods of Willowsmere, under a gorgeous 
canopy of autumn leaves, through which the sun shed mellow 
beams of rose and gold, — we had had an alfresco luncheon in 
the open air. — Lucio had sung for us wild old ballads and love- 
madrigals till the very foliage had seemed to tremble with joy 
at the sound of such entrancing melody, — and not a cloud had 
marred the perfect peace and pleasure of the time. Mavis 
Clare was not with us, — and I was glad. Somehow I felt 
that of late she had been more or less a discordant element 


whenever she had joined our party. I admired her, — in a sort 
of fraternal half-patronizing way I even loved her, — neverthe- 
less I was conscious that her ways were not as our ways, — her 
thoughts not as our thoughts. I placed the fault on her of 
course ; 1 concluded that it was because she had what I elected 
to call Miterary egoism,' instead of by its rightful name, the 
spirit of honourable independence. I never considered the 
inflated quality of my own egoism, — the poor pride of a ' cash 
and county position,' which is the pettiest sort of vain-glory 
anyone can indulge in, — and after turning the matter over in 
my mind, I decided that Mavis was a very charming young 
woman, with great literary gifts and an amazing pride which 
made it totally impossible for her to associate with many 
'great' people, so-called, — as she would never descend to the 
necessary level of flunkeyish servility which they expected, and 
which /certainly demanded. I should almost have been in- 
clined to relegate her to Grub Street, had not a faint sense of 
justice as well as shame held me back from doing her that in- 
dignity even in my thoughts. However, I was too much im- 
pressed with my own vast resources of unlimited wealth to 
realize the fact that anyone who, like Mavis, earns indepen- 
dence by intellectual work and worth alone, is entitled to feel 
a far greater pride than those who by mere chance of birth or 
heritage become the possessors of millions. Then again, 
Mavis Clare's literary position was, though I liked her person- 
ally, always a kind of reproach to me when I thought of my 
own abortive efforts to win the laurels of fame. So that on 
the whole I was glad she did not spend that day with us in 
the woods ; — of course, if I had paid any attention to the 
' trifles which make up the sum of life' I should have remem- 
bered that Lucio had told her he would ''meet her no more 
on earth," — but I judged this to be a mere trifle of hasty and 
melodramatic speech, without any intentional meaning. 

So my last twenty-four hours of happiness passed away in 
halcyon serenity, — I felt a sense of deepening pleasure in 
existence, and I began to believe that the future had brighter 


things in store for me than I had lately ventured to expect. 
Sibyl's new phase of gentleness and tenderness towards me, 
combined with her rare beauty, seemed to augur that the mis- 
understandings between us would be of short duration, and that 
her nature, too early rendered harsh and cynical by a ' society' 
education, would soften in time to that beautiful womanliness 
which is, after all, woman's best charm. Thus I thought, in 
blissful and contented reverie, reclining under the branching 
autumnal foliage, with my fair wife beside me, and listening 
to the rich tones of my friend Lucio's magnificent voice peal- 
ing forth sonorous, wild melodies, as the sunset deepened in 
the sky and the twilight shadows fell. Then came the night — 
the night which dropped only for a few hours over the quiet 
landscape, but for ever over me ! 

We had dined late, and, pleasantly fatigued with our day in 
the open air had retired early. I had latterly grown a heavy 
sleeper, and I suppose I must have slumbered some hours, 
when I was awakened suddenly as though by an imperative 
touch from some unseen hand. I started up in my bed, — the 
night-lamp was burning dimly, and by its glimmer I saw that 
Sibyl was no longer at my side. My heart gave one bound 
against my ribs and then almost stood still — a sense of some- 
thing unexpected and calamitous chilled my blood. I pushed 
aside the embroidered silken hangings of the bed and peered 
into the room, — it was empty. Then I rose hastily, put on 
my clothes and went to the door, — it was carefully shut, but 
not locked as it had been when we retired for the night. I 
opened it without the least noise, and looked out into the 
long passage, — no one there ! Immediately opposite the bed- 
room door there was a winding oak staircase leading down to 
a broad corridor which in former times had been used as a 
music-room or picture-gallery, — an ancient organ, still sweet 
of tone, occupied one end of it with dull golden pipes tower- 
ing up to the carved and embossed ceiling, — the other end was 
lit by a large oriel window like that of a church, filled with 
rare old stained glass, representing in various niches the lives 


of the saints, the centre subject being the martyrdom of St 
Stephen. Advancing with soft caution to the baUistrade over- 
looking this gallery I gazed down into it, and for a moment 
could see nothing on the polished floor but the criss-cross pat- 
terns made by the moonlight falling through the great window, 
— but presently, as I watched breathlessly, wondering where 
Sibyl could have gone to at this time of night, I saw a dark 
tall shadow waver across the moonlit network of lines, and I 
heard the smothered sound of voices. With my pulses beating 
furiously, and a sensation of suffocation in my throat, — full of 
strange thoughts and suspicions which I dared not define, I 
crept slowly and stealthily down the stair, till as my foot 
touched the last step I saw — what nearly struck me to the 
ground with a shock of agony — and I had to draw back and 
bite my lips hard to repress the cry that nearly escaped them. 
There,— there before me in the full moonlight, with the colours 
of the red and blue robes of the painted saints on the window 
glowing blood-like and azure about her, knelt my wife, — 
arrayed in a diaphanous garment of filmy white which betrayed 
rather than concealed the outline of her form, — her wealth of 
hair falling about her in wild disorder, — her hands clasped in 
supplication, — her pale face upturned ; and above her towered 
the dark imposing figure of Lucio ! I stared at the twain with 
dry burning eyes, — what did this portend? Was she — my 
wife — false? Was he — my friend — a traitor? 

'^ Patience ! — patience !" I muttered to myself. "This is a 
piece of acting doubtless — such as chanced the other night with 
Mavis Clare! — patience! — let us hear this — this comedy!" 
And, drawing myself close up against the wall, I leaned there, 
scarcely drawing breath, waiting for her \o\cq — (or /lis ; — when 
they spoke I should know, — yes, I should know all ! And I 
fastened my looks on them as they stood there, — vaguely 
wondering even in my tense anguish, at the fearful light on 
Lucio's face, — a light which could scarcely be the reflection 
of the moon, as he backed the window, — and at the scorn of 
his frowning brows. What terrific humour swayed him? — 



why did he, even to my stupefied thought appear more than 
human ? — why did his very beauty seem hideous at that 
moment, and his aspect fiendish ? Hush — hush ! She spoke, 
— my wife, — I heard her every word, — heard all and endured 
all without falling dead at her feet in the extremity of my dis- 
honour and despair ! 

"I love you !" she wailed. *' Lucio, I love you, and my 
love is killing me ! Be merciful ! — have pity on my passion ! 
Love me for one hour, one little hour ! — it is not much to ask, 
and afterwards, — do with me whit you will, — torture me, 
brand me an outcast in the public sight, curse me before 
Heaven — I care nothing — I am yours body and soul — I love 

Her accents vibrated with mad, idolatrous pleading, — I 
listened infuriated, but dumb. *' Hush,— hush !" I told 
myself. '' This is a comedy — not yet played out !" And I 
waited, with every nerve strained, for Lucio' s reply. It came, 
accompanied by a laugh, low and sarcastic. 

"You flatter me!" he said. "I regret I am unable to 
return the compliment !" 

My heart gave a throb of relief and fierce joy, — almost I 
could have joined in his ironical laughter. She — Sibyl — 
dragged herself nearer to him. 

"Lucio — Lucio!" she murmured. "Have you a heart? 
Can you reject me when I pray to you thus ? — when I offer 
you all myself, — all that I am, or ever hope to be ? Am I so 
repugnant to you ? Many men would give their lives if I 
would say to them what I say to you, — but they are nothing 
to me — you alone are my world, — the breath of my existence ! 
— ah, Lucio, can you not believe, will you not realize how 
deeply I love you !" 

He turned towards her with a sudden fierce movement that 
startled me, — and the cloud of scorn upon his brows grew 

" I know you love me !" he said, and from where I stood I 
saw the cold derisive smile flash from his lips to his eyes in 



lightning-like mockery. " 1 have always known it. Your 
vampire soul leaped to mine at the first glance I ever gave 
you, — you were a false foul thing from the first, and you 
recognised your master! Yes — your master!" for she had 
uttered a faint cry as if in fear, — and he, stooping, snatched 
her two hands and grasped them hard in his own " Listen 
to the truth of yourself for once from one who is not afraid 
to speak it ! — you love me, — and truly your body and soul are 
mine to claim if I so choose ! You married with a lie upon 
your lips ; you swore fidelity to your husband before God, 
with infidelity already in your thoughts, and by your own 
act made the mystical blessing a blasphemy and a curse ! 
Wonder not then that the curse has fallen ! I knew it all ! — 
the kiss I gave you on your wedding-day put fire in your 
blood and sealed you mine ! — why, you would have fled to 
me that very night, had I demanded it, — had I loved you as 
you love me, — that is, if you choose to call the disease of vanity 
and desire that riots in your veins by such a name as love ! 
But now hear me /" and as he held her two wrists he looked 
down upon her with such black wrath depicted in his face as 
seemed to create a darkness round him where he stood ; — " I 
hate you ! Yes — I hate you, and all such women as you ! 
For you corrupt the world, — you turn good to evil, — you 
deepen folly into crime, — with the seduction of your nude 
limbs and lying eyes, you make fools, cowards and beasts of 
men ! When you die, your bodies generate foulness, — things 
of the mould and slime are formed out of the flesh that was 
once fair for man's delight, — you are no use in life— you be- 
come poison in death, — I hate you all ! I read your soul — it 
is an open book to me — and it is branded with a name given 
to those who are publicly vile, but which should, of strict 
right and justice, be equally bestowed on women of your 
position and type, who occupy pride and place in this world's 
standing, and who have not the excuse of poverty for selling 
themselves to the devil !" 

He ceased abruptly and with passion, making a movement 


as though to fling her from him, — but she dung to his arm, — 
chmg with all the pertinacity of the loathly insect he had taken 
from the bosom of the dead Egyptian woman and made a toy 
of to amuse his leisure ! And I, looking on and listening, 
honoured him for his plain speaking, for his courage in telling 
this shameless creature what she was in the opinion of an 
honest man, without glozing over her outrageous conduct for 
the sake of civility or social observance. My friend, my 
more than friend ! He was true, — he was loyal, — he had 
neither desire nor intent to betray or dishonour me. My heart 
swelled with gratitude to him, and also with a curious sense 
of feeble self pity, — compassionating myself intensely I could 
have sobbed aloud in nervous fury and pain, had not my de- 
sire to hear more repressed my personal excitement and emo- 
tion. I watched my wife wonderingly — what had become of 
her pride that she still knelt before the man who had taunted 
her with such words as should have been beyond all en- 
durance ? 

'*Lucio! . . . Lucio !" she whispered, and her whispers 
sounded through the long gallery like the hiss of a snake — 
*'say what you will— say all you will of me, — you can say 
nothing that is not true. I am vile — I own it. But is it of 
much avail to be virtuous ? What pleasure comes from good- 
ness? — what gratification from self-denial? There is no God 
to care ! A few years, and we all die, and are forgotten even 
by those who loved us, — why should we lose such joys as we 
may have for the mere asking? Surely it is not difficult to 
love even for an hour ? — am I not fair to look upon ? — and 
is all this beauty of my face and form worthless in your sight, 
and you no more than man ? Murder me as you may with 
all the cruelty of cruel words, I care nothing ! — I love you — 
love you !" arid in a perfect passion of self-abandonment she 
sprang to her feet, tossing back her rich hair over her shoul- 
ders, and stood erect, a very bacchante of wild loveliness. 
" Look at me ! You shall not, — you dare not spurn such a 
love as mine !" 


Dead silence followed her outburst, and I stared in fasci- 
nated awe at Lucio as he turned more fully round and con- 
fronted her. The expression of his countenance struck me 
then as quite unearthly, — his beautiful broad brows were 
knitted in a darkling line of menace, — his eyes literally 
blazed with scorn, and yet he laughed, — a low laugh, reso- 
nant with satire. 

'* Shall not! — dare not!" he echoed disdainfully. 
''Woman's words, — woman's ranting! — the shriek of the 
outraged feminine animal who fails to attract, as she thinks, 
her chosen mate. Such a love as } ours ! — what is it? Deg- 
radation to whosoever shall accept it, — shame to whosoever 
shall rely upon it ! You make a boast of your beauty : your 
mirror shows you a pleasing image, — but your mirror lies as 
admirably as you do ! You see within it, not the reflection 
of yourself, for that would cause you to recoil in horror, . . . 
you merely look upon your fleshly covering, a garment of tis- 
sues, shrinkable, perishable, and only fit to mingle with the 
dust from which it sprang. Your beauty ! I see none of it, 
— I see You! and to me you are hideous, and "vvill remain 
hideous for ever. I hate you ! — I hate you with the bitter- 
ness of an immeasurable and unforgiving hatred, — for you 
have done me a wrong, — you have wrought an injury upon 
me, — you have added another burden to the load of punish- 
ment I carry !"" 

She made a forward movement with outstretched arms, — 
he repulsed her by a fierce gesture. 

'^ Stand back !" he said. " Be afraid of me, as of an un- 
known Terror ! O pitiless Heaven !— to think of it ! — but a 
night ag<5 I was lifted a step nearer to my lost delight !— and 
now this woman drags me back, and down ! — and yet again I 
hear the barring of the gates of Paradise ! O infinite torture ! 
O wicked -souls of men and women ! — is there no touch of 
grace or thought of God left in you ! — and will ye make my 
sorrows eternal ! ' ' 

He stood, lifting hi.s face to the light where it streamed 


through the oriel window, and the moonbeams colouring 
themselves faintly roseate as they filtered through the painted 
garments of St Stephen, showed a great and terrible anguish 
in his eyes. I hc^ard him with amazement and awe, — I could 
not imagine what he meant by his strange \vords, — and it was 
evident by her expression, that my reckless and abandoned 
wife was equally mystified. 

'*Lucio," she murmured, " Lucio, . . . what is it . . . 
what have I done? — I who would not wound you for the 
world ? — I who but seek your love, Lucio, to repay it in full 
with such fond passion and tenderness as you have never 
known ! For this and this only, I married Geoffrey, — I 
chose your friend as husband because he was your friend !" 
(O perfidious woman !) "and because I saw his foolish ego- 
tism, — his pride in himself and his riches, — his blind con- 
fidence in me and in you ; — I knew that I could, after a time 
follow the fashion of many another woman in my set and 
choose my lover, — ah, my lover ! — I had chosen him already, 
— I have chosen you, Lucio ! — yes, though you hate me you 
cannot hinder me from loving you, — I shall love you till I 

He turned his gaze upon her steadily, — the gloom deepen- 
ing on his brows. 

'' And after you die ?" he said. '' Will you love me then ?" 

There was a stern derision in his tone which appeared to 
vaguely terrify her. 

''After death ! . . ." she stammered. 

**Yes, — after death!" he repeated sombrely. "There is 
an after; — as your mother knows!" A faint exclamation 
escaped her, — she fixed her eyes upon him affrightedly. 
"Fair lady," he went on, "your mother was, like yourself, 
a voluptuary. She, like you, made up her mind to ' follow 
the fashion,' as you put it, as soon as her husband's 'blind' 
or willing confidence was gained. She chose, not one lover 
but many. You know her end. In the written but miscom- 
prehended laws of Nature, a diseased body is the natural 


expression of a diseased mind, — her face in her last days was 
the reflex of her soul. You shudder? — the thought of her 
hideousness is repellent to your self-conscious beauty? Yet 
the evil that was in her is also in you, — it festers in your 
blood slowly but surely, and as you have no faith in God to 
cure the disease, it will have its way — even at the final 
moment when death clutches at your throat and stops your 
breathing. The smile upon your frozen lips then will not 
be the smile of a saint, believe me, but of a sinner ! Death 
is never deceived, though life may be. And afterwards . . . 
I ask again, will you love me, do you think? . . . when you 
know WHO I am?" 

I was myself startled at his manner of putting this strange 
question ; — I saw her lift her hands beseechingly towards him, 
and she seemed to tremble. 

*' When I know who you are !" she repeated wonderingly. 
*'Do I not know? You are Lucio, — Lucio Rimanez — my 
love, — my love ! — whose voice is my music, — whose beauty 
I adore, — whose looks are my heaven ..." 

'* And Hell!" he interposed, with a low laugh. ^' Come 

She went towards him eagerly, yet falteringly. He pointed 
to the ground, — I saw the rare blue diamond he always wore 
on his right hand flash like a flame in the moonrays. 

*' Since you love me so well," he said, ''kneel down and 
worship me !" 

She dropped on her knees — and clasped her hands, — I 
strove to move, — to speak, — but some resistless force held 
me dumb and motionless ; — the light from the stained glass 
window fell upon her face and showed its fairness illumined 
by a smile of perfect rapture. 

*' With every pulse of my being I worship you I" she mur- 
mured passionately. " My king ! — my god ! The cruel things 
you say but deepen my lov^e for you, — you can kill, but you 
can never change me ! For one kiss of your lips I would 
die, — for one embrace from you I would give my soul ..." 


" Have you one to give ?" he asked derisively. "Is it not 
already disposed of? You should make sure of that first ! 
Stay where you are and let me look at you ! So ! — a woman, 
wearing a husband's name, holding a husband's honour, 
clothed in the very garments purchased with a husband's 
money, and newly risen from a husband's side, steals forth 
thus in the night, seeking to disgrace him, and pollute herself 
by the vulgarest unchastity ! And this is all that the culture 
and training of nineteenth-century civilization can do for 
you ? Myself, I prefer the barbaric fashion of old times when 
rough savages fought for their women as they fought for their 
cattle, treated them as cattle, and kept them in their place, 
never dreaming of endowing them with such strong virtues as 
truth and honour. If women were pure and true, then the 
lost happiness of the world might return to it, — but the 
majority of them are like you, liars, ever pretending to be 
what they are not. I may do what I choose with you, you 
say ? — torture you, kill you, brand you with the name of out- 
cast in the public sight, and curse you before Heaven — if I 
will only love you ! — all this is melodramatic speech, and I 
never cared for melodrama at any time. I shall neither kill 
you, brand you, curse you, nor love you; I shall simply — 
call your husband !" 

I stirred from my hiding-place, — then stopped. She sprang 
to her feet in an insensate passion of anger and shame. 

"You dare not!" she panted. "You dare not so . . . 
disgrace me ! " 

"Disgrace you!" he echoed scornfully. "That remark 
comes rather late, seeing you have disgraced yourself ! ' ' 

But she was now fairly roused. All the savagery and 
obstinacy of her nature was awakened, and she stood like 
some beautiful wild animal at bay, trembling from head to 
foot with the violence of her emotions. 

"You repulse me, — you scorn me!" she muttered in hur- 
ried fierce accents that scarcely rose above an angry whisper. 
"You make a mockery of my heart's anguish and despair, 


but you shall suffer for it ! 1 am your match, — nay your 
equal ! You shall not spurn me a second time. You ask, 
will I love you when I know who you are, — it is your pleasure 
to deal in mysteries, but I have no mysteries — I am a woman 
who loves you with all the passion of a life, — and I will 
murder myself and you, rather than live to know that I have 
prayed you for your love in vain. Do you think I came unpre- 
pared ? — no !" and she suddenly drew from her bosom a short 
steel dagger with a jewelled hilt, a curio I recognised as one 
of the gifts to her on her marriage. *' Love me, I say ! — or 
I will stab myself dead here at your feet and cry out to 
Geoffrey that you have murdered me !" 

She raised the weapon aloft. I almost sprang forward — but 
I drew back again quickly as I saw Lucio seize the hand that 
held the dagger and draw it firmly down, — while wresting the 
weapon from her clutch he snapped it asunder and flung the 
pieces on the floor. 

"Your place was the stage, Madam!" he said. "You 
should have been the chief female mime at some ' high- 
class' theatre ! You would have adorned the boards, drawn 
the mob, had as many lovers, stagey and private, as you 
pleased, been invited to act at Windsor, obtained a payment- 
jewel from the Queen, and written your name in her auto- 
graph album ! That should undoubtedly have been your 
' great' career — you were born for it — made for it ! You 
would have been as brute-souled as you are now, — but that 
would not have mattered, — mimes are exempt from chas- 

In the action of breaking the dagger, and in the intense 
bitterness of his speech he had thiust her back a few paces 
from him, and she stood breathless and white with rage, eye- 
ing him in mingled passion and terror. For a moment she 
was silent, — then advancing slowly with the feline suppleness 
of movement which had given her a reputation for grace ex- 
ceeding that of any woman in England, she said in deliber- 
ately measured accents — 


-" Liicio Rimanez, I have borne your insults as I would bear 
my death at your hands because I love you ! You loathe me, 
you say — you repulse me, — I love you still ! You cannot cast 
me off — I am yours. You shall love me, or I will die, — one 
of the two. Take time for thought, — I leave you to-night, — 
I give you all tomorrow to consider, — love me, — give me 
yourself — be my lover — and I will play the comedy of social 
life as well as any other woman, — so well that my husband 
shall never know. But refuse me again as you have refused 
me now, and I will make away with myself. I am not ' act- 
ing,' — I am speaking calmly and with conviction ; I mean 
what I say." 

" Do you?" queried Lucio coldly. "Let me congratulate 
you I Few women attain to such coherence I" 

''I will put an end to this life of mine," she went on, 
paymg no sort of heed to his words. " I cannot endure ex- 
istence without your love, Lucio!" and a dreary pathos vi- 
brated in her voice. " I hunger for the kisses of your lips, — 
the clasp of your arms ! Do you know — do you ever think 
of your own power ? — the cruel, terrible power of your eyes, 
your speech, your smile, — the beauty which makes you more 
like an angel than a man, — and have you no pity? Do you 
think that ever a man was born like you ?" He looked at her 
as she said this and a faint smile rested on his lips. *' When 
you speak, I hear music — when you sing, it seems to me 
that I understand what the melodies of a poet's heaven must 
be ; — surely, surely you know that your very looks are a 
snare to the warm weak soul of a woman ! Lucio !" — and 
emboldened by his silence, she stole nearer to him — ''meet 
me tomorrow in the lane near the cottasje of Mavis Clare." 

He started as if he had been stung — but not a word escaped 

" I heard all you said to her the other night," she con- 
tinued, advancing yet a step closer to his side. " I followed 
you, — and I listened. I was well-nigh mad with jealousy — I 
thought — I feared — you loved her, — but I was wrong. I never 


do thank God for anything, — but I thanked God that night 
that I was wrong ! She was not made for you — I am ! Meet 
me outside her house, where the great white rose-tree is in 
bloom — gather one, one of those little autumnal roses and 
give it to me — I shall understand it as a signal — a signal that 
I may come to you tomorrow night, and not be cursed or re- 
pulsed, but loved — loved ! — ah Lucio ! promise me ! — one little 
rose ! — the symbol of an hour's love ! — then let me die, — I 
shall have had all I ask of life !" 

With a sudden swift movement, she flung herself upon his 
breast, and circling her arms about his neck, lifted her face to 
his. The moonbeams showed me her eyes alit with rapture, 
her lips trembling with passion, her bosom heaving, . . . the 
blood surged up to my brain and a red mist swam before my 
sight, . . . would Lucio yield ? Not he ! — he loosened her 
desperate hands from about his throat and forced her back, 
holding her at arm's length. 

" Woman, false and accursed !" he said in tones that were 
sonorous and terrific. ''You know not what you seek ! All 
that you ask of life shall be yours in death ! — this is the law, 
therefore beware what demands you make lest they be too fully 
granted ! A rose from the cottage of Mavis Clare? — a rose 
from the garden of Eden ! — they are one and the same to me ! 
Not for my gathering or yours ! Love and joy ? For the 
unfaithful there is no love, — for the impure there is no joy. 
Add no more to the measure of my hatred and vengeance ! 
Go while there is yet time, — go and front the destiny you have 
made for yourself — for nothing can alter it ! And as for me, 
whom you love, — before whom you have knelt in idolatrous 
worship" — and a low, fierce laugh escaped him, — "why, — 
restrain your feverish desires, fair fiend ! — have patience ! — we 
shall meet ere long !" 

I could not bear the scene another moment, and springing 
from my hiding-place I dragged my wife away from him and 
flung myself between them. 

*' Let me defend you, Lucio, from the pertinacities of this 


wanton !" I cried with a wild burst of laughter. " An hour 
ago I thought she was my wife, — I find her nothing but a 
purchased chattel who seeks a change of masters !" 


For one instant we all three stood facing each other, — I 
breathless and mad with fury, — Lucio calm and disdainful, — 
my wife staggering back from me, half-swooning with fear. 
In an access of black rage, I rushed upon her and seized her 
in my arms. 

'^ I have heard you !" I said, " I have seen you ! I have 
watched you kneel before my true friend, my loyal comrade 
there, and try your best to make him as vile as yourself ! I 
am that poor fool, your husband, — that 'blind egoist whose 
confidence you sought to win— and to betray ! I am the 
unhappy wretch whose surplus of world's cash has bought for 
him in marriage a shameless courtesan ! You dare to talk of 
love ? You profane its very name ! Good God ! — what are 
such women as you made of? You throw yourselves into our 
arms, — you demand our care — you exact our respect — you 
tempt our senses — you win our hearts, — and then you make 
fools of us all ! Fools, and worse than fools, — you make us 
men without feeling, conscience, faith, or pity ! If we become 
criminals, what wonder ! If we do things that shame our sex, 
is it not because you set us the example ! God — God ! I, 
who loved you, — yes, loved you in spite of all that my mar- 
riage with you taught me. — I, who would have died to save 
you from a shadow of suspicion, — I am the one out of all the 
world you choose to murder by your treachery ! ' ' 

I loosened my grasp of her, — she recovered her self-posses- 
sion by an effort and looked at me straightly with cold unfeel- 
ing eyes. 

'' What did you marry me for?" she demanded — " For my 
sake or your own ?" 


I was silent, — too choked with wrath and pain to speak. 
All I could do was to hold out my hand to Lucio, who 
grasped it with a cordial and sympathetic pressure. Yet 
... I fancied he smiled ! 

**Was it because you desired to make me happy out of 
pure love for me?" pursued Sibyl, "or because you wished 
to add dignity to your own position by wedding the daughter 
of an Earl ? Your motives were not unselfish, — you chose 
me simply because I was the beauty of the day, whom London 
men stared at and talked of, — and because it gave you a cer- 
tain ' prestige' to have me for your wife, in the same way 
as it gave you a footing with Royalty to be the owner of the 
Derby-winner. I told you honestly what I was before our 
marriage, — it made no effect upon your vanity and egoism. 
I never loved you, — I could not love you, and I told you so. 
You have heard, so you say, all that has passed between me 
and Lucio, — therefore you know why I married you. I state 
it boldly to your face, — it was that I might have your intimate 
friend for my lover. That you should pretend to be scan- 
dalized at this, is absurd ; it is a common position of things 
in France, and is becoming equally common in England. 
Morality has always been declared unnecessary for men, — 
it is becoming equally unnecessary for women !" 

I stared at her, amazed at the glibness of her speech, and 
the cool convincing manner in which she spoke, after her 
recent access of passion and excitement. 

"You have only to read the 'new' fiction," she went on, 
a mocking smile lighting up her pale face, "and indeed all 
' new' literature generally, to be assured that your ideas of 
domestic virtue are quite out of date. Both men and women 
are, according to certain accepted writers of the day, at equal 
liberty to love when they will and where they may. Polyg- 
amous purity is the ' new' creed ! Such love, in fact, so we 
are taught, constitutes the only 'sacred' union. If you want 
to alter this 'movement,' and return to the old-fashioned 
types of the modest maiden and the immaculate matron, you 


must sentence all the ' new' writers of profitable pruriency to 
penal servitude for life, and institute a Government censor- 
ship of the modern press. As matters stand, your attitude of 
the outraged husband is not only ridiculous, — it is unfashion- 
able. I assure you I do not feel the slightest prick of con- 
science in saying I love Lucio, — any woman might be proud 
of loving him ; — he, however, will not, or cannot love me, — 
we have had a 'scene,' and you have completed the dramatic 
effect by witnessing it, — there is no more to be said or done 
in the affair. I do not suppose you can divorce me, — but if 
you can, you may — I shall make no defence." 

She turned, as if to go ; — I still stared dumbly at her, find- 
ing no Avords to cope with her effrontery, — when Lucio's 
voice, attuned to a grave and soothing suavity, interposed — 

" This is a very painful and distressing state of things," he 
said, and the strange half-cynical, half-contemptuous smile 
still rested on his lips — " but I must positively protest against 
the idea of divorce, not only for her ladyship's sake, but my 
own. I am entirely innocent in the matter I" 

*' Innocent 1" I exclaimed, grasping him again by the hand. 
" You are nobility itself, Lucio ! — as loyal a friend as ever man 
had. I thank you for your courage, — for the plain and honest 
manner in which you have spoken. I heard all you said ! 
Nothing was too strong, — nothing could be too strong to 
awaken this misguided woman to a sense of her outrageous 
conduct, — her unfaithfulness " 

''Pardon me!" he interrupted delicately. "The Lady 
Sibyl can scarcely be called unfaithful, Geoffrey. She suf- 
fers, — from — let us call it, a little exaltation of nerves ! In 
thought she may be guilty of infidelity, but society does not 
know that, — and in act she is pure, — pure as the newly-driven 
snow, — and as the newly-driven snow^, \vill society, itself im- 
maculate, regard her ! ' ' 

His eyes glittered, — I met his chill derisive glance. 

" You think as I do, Lucio !" I said hoarsely. "You feel 
with me, that a wife's unchaste thought is as vile as her un- 
Q 31 


chaste act. There is no excuse, — no palliative for such cruel 
and abominable ingratitude. Why," — and my voice rose 
unconsciously as I turned fiercely again towards Sibyl, — 
'* did I not free you and your family from the heavy pressure 
of poverty and debt ? Have I grudged you anything ? Are 
you not loaded with jewels? — have you not greater luxuries 
and liberties than a queen ? And do you not owe me at least 
some duty?" 

'' I ow^e you nothing !" she responded boldly. ** I gave you 
what you paid for, — my beauty and my social position. It 
was a fair bargain !" 

** A dear and bitter one !" I cried. 

'* Maybe so. But such as it was, you struck it, — not I. 
You can end it when you please, — the law ..." 

** The law will give you no freedom in such a case," inter- 
posed Lucio with a kind of satirical urbanity. *' A judicial 
separation on the ground of mcompatibility of temper might 
be possible certainly — but would not that be a pity? Her 
ladyship is unfortunate in her tastes, — that is all ! — she se- 
lected me as her cavaliere scrvenfe, and I refused the situa- 
tion, — hence there is nothing for it but to forget this un- 
pleasant incident, and try to live on a better understanding 
for the future." 

" Do you think," said my wife, advancing with her proud 
head uplifted in scorn, the while she pointed at me, — "do 
you think 1 will live with him after what he has seen and 
heard to-night ? What do you take me for !" 

*'For a very charming woman of hasty impulses and un- 
wise reasoning," replied Lucio with an air of sarcastic gal- 
lantry, ** Lady Sibyl, you are illogical, — most of your sex are. 
You can do no good by prolonging this scene, — a most un- 
pleasant and trying one to us poor men. You know how we 
hate ' scenes' ! Let me beg of you to retire ! Your duty is 
to your husband ; pray heaven he may forget this midnight 
delirium of yours, and set it down to some strange illness 
rather than to any evil intention. " 


For all answer she came towards him, stretching out her 
arms in wild appeal. 

"Lucio!" she cried — " Lucio, my love! Good-night! — 
Good-bye !" 

I sprang between him and her advancing form. 

"Before my very face!" I exclaimed. ''O infamous 
woman ! Have you no shame ! ' ' 

" None !*' she said, with a wild smile. ** I glory in my love 
for such a king of worth and beauty ! Look at him ! — and 
then look at yourself in the nearest mirror that reflects so 
poor and mean a picture of a man ! How, even in your 
egoism, could you deem it possible for a woman to love you 
when he was near ! Stand out of the light ! — you interpose a 
shadow between my god and me !'.' 

As she uttered these mad words her aspect was so strange 
and unearthly, that out of sheer stupefied wonder I mechanic- 
ally did as she bade me, and stood aside. She regarded me 

"I may as well say good-bye to you also," she observed, 
"for I shall never live with you again." 

" Nor I with you !" 1 said fiercely. 

"Nor I with you — nor I with you!" she repeated like a 
child saying a lesson. " Of course not ! — if I do not live with 
you, you cannot live with me !" She laughed discordantly; 
then turned her beseeching gaze once more upon Lucio, — 
" Good-bye !" she said. 

He looked at her with a curious fixity, but returned no 
word m answer. His eyes flashed coldly in the moonlight 
like sharp steel, and he smiled. She regarded him with such 
passionate intentness that it seemed as though she sought to 
draw his very soul into herself by the magnetism of her glance, 
— but he stood unmoved, a very statue of fine disdain and in- 
tellectual self- repression. My scarcely controlled fury broke 
out again at the sight of her dumb yearning, and I gave vent 
to a shout of scornful laughter. 

" By heaven, a veritable new Venus and reluctant Adonis !" 


I cried deliriously. " A poet should be here to immortalize 
so touching a scene! Go— go!" and I motioned her away 
with a furious gesture. " Go, if you do not want me to mur- 
der you ! Go, with the proud consciousness that you have 
worked all the mischief and ruin that is naostdear to the heart 
of a woman, — you have spoilt a life and dishonoured a name, 
— you can do no more, — your feminine triumph is complete ! 
Go ! — would to God I might never see your face again ! — 
would to God I had been spared the misery of having married 
you !" 

She paid no attention whatever to my words, but kept her 
eyes fixed on Lucio. Retreating slowly, she seemed to feel 
rather than see her way to the winding stair, and there, turn- 
ing, she began to ascend. Half way up she paused — looked 
back and fully confronted us once more, — with a wild wicked 
rapture on her face she kissed her hands to Lucio, smiling like 
a spectral woman in a dream, — then she went onward and 
upward, step by step, till the last white fold of her robe had 
vanished, — and we two, — my friend and I, — were alone. 
Facing one another we stood, silently, — I met his sombre eyes 
and thought I read an infinite compassion in them ! — then, — 
while I yet looked upon him, something seemed to clutch my 
throat and stop my breathing, — his dark and beautiful coun- 
tenance appeared to me to grow suddenly lurid as with fire, — 
a coronal of flame seemed to tremble above his brows, — the 
moonlight glistened blood-red, — a noise was in my ears of 
mingled thunder and music as though the silent organ at the 
end of the gallery were played by hands invisible ; — struggling 
against these delusive sensations, I involuntarily stretched out 
my hands . . . 

*' Lucio! ..." I gasped — ''Lucio . . . my friend ! . . . 
I think, . . . lam, . . . dying! My heart is broken !" 

As I spoke, a great blackness closed over me, — and I fell 



Oh, the blessedness of absolute unconsciousness ! It is 
enough to make one wish that death were indeed annihi- 
lation ! Utter oblivion, — complete destruction, — surely this 
would be a greater mercy to the erring soul of man than the 
terrible God's-gift of Immortality, — the dazzling impress of 
that divine ' Image' of the Creator in which we are all made, 
and which we can never obliterate from our beings. I, who 
have realized to the full the unalterable truth of eternal life, — 
eternal regeneration for each individual spirit in each indi- 
vidual human creature, look upon the endless futures through 
which I am compelled to take my part with something more 
like horror than gratitude. For I have wasted my time and 
thrown away priceless opportunities, — and though repentance 
may retrieve these, the work of retrieval is long and bitter. 
It is easier to lose a glory than to win it ; and if I could 
have died the death that positivists hope for at the very 
moment when I learned the full measure of my heart's 
desolation, surely it would have been well ! But my tem- 
porary swoon was only too brief, — and when I recovered I 
found myself in Lucio'sown apartment, one of the largest and 
most sumptuously furnished of all the guest-chambers at Wil- 
lowsmere, — the windows were wide open, and the floor was 
flooded with moonlight. As I shuddered coldly back to life 
and consciousness, I heard a tinkling sound of tune, and 
opening my eyes wearily I saw Lucio himself seated in the 
full radiance of the moon with a mandoline on his knee from 
which he was softly striking delicate impromptu melodies. I 
was amazed at this, — astounded that while I personally was 
overwhelmed with a weight of woe, he should still be capable 
of amusing himself. It is a common idea with us all that 
when we ourselves are put out, no one else should dare to be 
merry, — in fact we expect Nature itself to wear a miserable 


face if our own beloved Ego is disturbed by any trouble, — 
such is the extent of our ridiculous self-consciousness. I 
moved in my chair and half rose from it, — when Lucio, still 
thrumming the strings of his instrument piano pianissimo^ 
said — 

'' Keep still, Geoffrey. You'll be all right in a few minutes. 
Don't worry yourself." 

'' Worry myself!" I echoed bitterly. '' Why not say don't 
kill yourself!" 

"Because I see no necessity to offer you that advice at 
present," he responded coolly — ** and if there were necessity, 
I doubt if I should give it, — because 1 consider it better to kill 
one's self than worry one's self. However opinions differ. I 
want you to take this matter lightly. ' ' 

"■ Lightly ! — take my own dishonour and disgrace lightly !" 
I exclaimed, almost leaping from my chair. '* You ask too 

" My good fellow, I ask no more than is asked and expected 
of a hundred ' society' husbands to-day. Consider ! — your 
wife has been led away from her soberer judgment and 
reasoning by an exalted and hysterical passion for me on 
account of my looks, — not for myself at all — because she 
really does not know Me, — she only sees me as I appear to be. 
The love of handsome exterior personalities is a common de- 
lusion of the fair sex — and passes in time like other women's 
diseases. No actual dishonour or disgrace attaches to her or 
to you, — nothing has been seen, heard, or done in public. 
This being so, I can't understand what you are making a fuss 
about. The great object of social life, you know, is to hide 
all savage passions and domestic differences from the gaze of 
the vulgar crowd. You can be as bad as you like in private — 
only God sees — and that does not matter !" 

His eyes had a mocking lustre in them, — twanging his man- 
doline, he sang under his breath — 

"If she be not fair for me 
What care I how fair she be !" 


*'That is the true spirit, Geoffrey," he went on. "It 
sounds flippant to you no doubt in your present tragic frame 
of mind — but it is the only way to treat women, in marriage 
or out of it. Before the world and society your wife is like 
Caesar's, above suspicion. Only you and I (we will leave God 
out) have been the witnesses of her attack of hysteria ..." 

"Hysteria, you call it! She loves you!" I said hotly. 
" And she has always loved you. She confessed it, — and you 
admitted that you always knew it !" 

" I always knew she was hysterical — yes — If that is what you 
mean," he answered. " The majority of women have no real 
feelings, no serious emotions — except one — vanity. They do 
not know what a great love means, — their chief desire is for 
conquest, — and failing in this, they run up the gamut of baf- 
fled passion to the pitch of frenetic hysteria, which with some 
becomes chronic. Lady Sibyl suffers in this way. Now listen 
to me. I will go off to Paris or Moscow or Berlin at once, — 
after what has happened of course I cannot stay here, — and I 
give you my word I will not intrude myself into your domestic 
circle again. In a few days you will tide over this rupture, 
and learn the wisdom of supporting the differences that occur 
in matrimony, with composure " 

"Impossible! I will not part with you!" I said vehe- 
mently. " Nor will I live with her ! Better the companion- 
ship of a true friend than that of a false wife !" 

He raised his eyebrows with a puzzled half-humorous ex- 
pression — then shrugged his shoulders, as one who gives up 
a difficult argument. Rising, he put aside his mandoline and 
came over to me, his tall imposing figure casting a gigantic 
shadow in the brilliant moonbeams. 

" Upon my word, you put me in a very awkward position, 
Geoffrey, — what is to be done? You can get a judicial 
separation if you like, but I think it would be an unwise 
course of procedure after barely four months of marriage. 
The world would be set talking at once. Really it is better 
to do anything than give the gossips a chance for floating 


scandal. Look here — don't decide anything hastily, — come 
up to town with me for a day, and leave your wife alone to 
meditate upon her foolishness and its possible consequences, 
— then you will be better able to judge as to your future 
movements. Go to your room and sleep till morning." 

''Sleep!" I repeated with a shudder. ''In that room 

where she " I broke off with a cry and looked at him 

imploringly. " Am I going mad I wonder ! JMy brain seems 
on fire ! If I could forget ! ... if I could forget ! Lucio 
— if you, my loyal friend, had been false to me I should have 
died, — your truth, your honour have saved me !" 

He smiled — an odd, cynical little smile. 

"Tut — I make no boast of virtue," he rejoined. " If the 
lady's beauty had been any temptation to me I might have 
yielded to her charms, — in so doing I should have been no 
more than man, as she herself suggested. But perhaj^s I am 
more than man ! at any rate bodily beauty in woman makes no 
sort of effect on me, unless it is accompanied by beauty of 
soul, — then it does make an effect, and a very extraordinary 
one. It provokes me to try how deep the beauty goes — 
whether it is impervious or vulnerable. As I find it, so I 
leave it." 

I stared wearily at the moonlight patterns on the floor. 

" What am I to do ?" I asked. " What would you advise ?" 

"Come up to town with me," he replied. "You can 
leave a note for your wife, explaining your absence, — and at 
one of the clubs we will talk over the matter quietly, and 
decide how best to avoid a social scandal. Meanwhile, go 
to bed. If you won't go back to your own room, sleep in 
the spare one next to mine." 

I rose mechanically and prepared to obey him. He watched 
me furtively. 

" Will you take a composing draught if I mix it for you?" 
he said. "It's harmless, and will give you a few hours' 

" I would take poison from your hand !" I answered reck- 


lessly. *' Why don't you mix that for me? — and then, . . , 
then I should sleep indeed, — and forget this horrible night !" 

'' No, — unfortunately you would not forget !" he said, going 
to his dressing-case and taking out a small white powder 
which he dissolved gradually in a glass of water. " That is 
the worst of what people call dying. I must instruct you in 
a little science by-and-by, to distract your thoughts. The 
scientific part of death, — the business that goes on behind 
the scenes you know — will interest you very much — it is 
highly instructive, particularly that section of it which I am 
entitled to call the regeneration of atoms. The brain-cells 
are atoms, and within these are other atoms called memories, 
curiously vital and marvellously prolific! Drink this," and 
he handed me the mixture he had prepared. '' For temporary 
purposes it is much better than death— because it does numb 
and paralyze the conscious atoms for a little while, whereas 
death only liberates them to a larger and more obstinate 

I was too self-absorbed to heed or understand his words, 
but I drank what he gave me submissively and returned the 
glass, — he still watched me closely for about a minute Then 
he opened the door of the apartment which adjoined his own. 

"Throw yourself on that bed and close }Our eyes," he 
continued in somewhat peremptory accents. "Till morning 
breaks I give you a respite," — and he smiled strangely, — 
"both from dreams and memories! Plunge into Oblivion, 
my friend ! — brief as it is and as it must ever be, it is sweet ! 
— even to a millionaire !" 

The ironical tone of his voice vexed me, — I looked at him 
half reproachfully, and saw his proud beautiful face, pale as 
marble, clear cut as a cameo, soften as I met his eyes, — I felt 
he was sorry for me despite his love of satire, — and grasping 
his hand I pressed it fervently without offering any other 
reply. Then, going into the next room as he bade me, I lay 
down, and falling asleep almost instantly, I remembered no 




With the morning came full consciousness ; I realized bit- 
terly all that had happened, but I was no longer inclined to 
bemoan my fate. My senses were stricken, as it seemed, too 
numb and rigid for any further outbreak of passion. A hard 
callousness took the place of outraged feeling ; and though 
despair was in my heart, my mind was made up to one stern 
resolve, — I would look upon Sibyl no more. Never again 
should that fair face, the deceitful mask of a false nature, 
tempt my sight and move me to pity or forgiveness, — that I 
determined. Leaving the room in which I had passed the 
night I went to my study and wrote the following letter : 


After the degrading and disgraceful scene of last 
night you must be aware that any further intercourse between 
us is impossible. Prince Rimanez and I are leaving for Lon- 
don ; we shall not return. You can continue to reside at 
Willowsmere, — the house is yours, — and the half of my fortune 
unconditionally settled upon you on our marriage-day will 
enable you to keep up the fashions of your * set,' and live 
with that luxury and extravagance you deem necessary to an 
' aristocratic' position. I have decided to travel, — and I in- 
tend to make such arrangements as may prevent, if possible, 
our ever meeting again, though I shall of course do my best 
for my own sake, to avoid any scandal. To reproach you for 
your conduct would be useless ; you are lost to all sense of 
shame. You have abased yourself in the humiliation of a 
guilty passion before a man who despises you, — who, in his 
own loyal and noble nature, hates you for your infidelity and 
hypocrisy, — and I can find no i;ardon for the wrong you have 
thus done to me, and the injury you have brought upon my 
name. I leave you to the judL;ment of your own conscience, 
— if you have one, — which is doubtful. Such women as you 


are seldom troubled with remorse. It is not likely you will 
ever see me or the man to whom you have offered your unde- 
sired love, again, — make of your life what you can or will, I 
am indifferent to your movements, and for my own part, shall 
endeavour as much as may be, to forget that you exist. 
Your husband 

Geoffrey Tempest. 

This letter, folded and sealed, I sent to my wife in her own 
apartments, by her maid, — the girl came back and said she 
had delivered it, but that there was no answer. Her ladyship 
had a severe headache and meant to keep her room that morn- 
ing. I expressed just as much civil regret as a confidential 
maid would naturally expect from the newly-wed ded husband 
of her mistress, — and then, giving instructions to my man 
Morris to pack my portmanteau, I partook of a hurried break- 
fast with Lucio in more or less silence and constraint, for the 
servants were in attendance, and I did not wish them to sus- 
pect that anything was wrong. For their benefit, I gave out 
that my friend and I were called suddenly to town on urgent 
business, — that we might be absent a couple of days, perhaps 
longer, — and that any special message or telegram could be 
sent on to me at Arthur's Club. I was thankful when we at 
last got away, — when the tall picturesque red gables of Wil- 
lowsmere vanished from my sight, — and when finally, seated 
in a railway smoking-carriage reserved for our two selves we 
were able to watch the miles of distance gradually extending 
between us and the beautiful autumnal woods of poet-haunted 
Warwickshire. For a long time we kept silence, turning over 
and pretending to read the morning's papers, — till presently 
flinging down the dull and wearisome ' Times' sheet, I sighed 
heavily, and leaning back, closed my eyes. 

" I am truly very much distressed about all this," said 
Lucio then, with extreme gentleness and suavity. '' It seems 
to me that /am the adverse element in the affair. If Lady 
Sibyl had never seen me " 


''Why, then I should never have seen her/'' I responded 
bitterly. '' It was through you I met her first." 

**True!" and he eyed me thoughtfully. ''lam very un- 
fortunately placed ! — it is almos: as if I were to blame, 
though no one could be more innocent or well-intentioned 
than myself!" He smiled, — then wxnt on very gravely — 
" 1 really should avoid scandalous gossip if I were you, — 1 do 
not speak of my own involuntary share in the disaster, — 
what people say of me is quite immaterial ; but for the lady's 
sake " 

" For my own sake I shall try to avoid it," I said brusquely, 
whereat his eyes glittered strangely. "It is myself I have to 
consider most of all. I shall, as I hinted to you this morn- 
ing, travel for a few years. ' ' 

"Yes, — go on a tiger-hunting expedition in India," he 
suggested — " or kill elephants in Africa. It is what a great 
many men do when their wives forget themselves. Several 
well-known husbands are abroad just now I" 

Again the brilliant enigmatical smile flashed over his face, 
— but I could not smile in answer. I stared moodily out of 
the window at the bare autumnal fields past which the train 
flew, — bare of harvest, — stripped of foliage — like my own 
miserable life. 

"Come and winter with me in Egypt," he continued. 
" Come in my yacht ' The Flame,' — we will take her to 
Alexandria, — and then do the Nile in a dahabeah, and forget 
that such frivolous dolls as women exist, except to be played 
with by us ' superior' creatures and thrown aside." 

"Egypt — the Nile!" I murmured, — somehow the idea 
pleased me. " Yes, — why not?" 

" Why not indeed !" he echoed. " The proposal is agree- 
able to you I am sure. Come and see the land of the old gods, 
— the land where my princess used to live and torture the souls 
of men ! — perhaps we may discover the remains of her last 
victim, — who knows I" 

I avoided his gaze ; — the recollection of the horrible winged 


thing he persisted in imagining to be the transmigrated soul 
of an evil woman, was repugnant to me. Ahnost I felt as if 
there were some subtle connection between that hateful creature 
and my wife Sibyl. I was glad when the train reached London, 
and we, taking a hansom, were plunged into the ver\ vortex 
of human life. The perpetual noise of traffic, the motley 
crowds of people, the shouting of news-boys and omnibus- 
conductors, — all this hubbub was grateful to my ear.s, and for 
a time at least, distracted my thoughts. We lunched at the 
Savoy, and amused ourselves with noting the town noodles of 
fashion, — the inane young man in the stocks of the stiff high 
collar, and wearing the manacles of equally stiff and exag- 
gerated cuffs, a veritable prisoner in the dock of silly custom, 
the frivolous fool of a w'oman, painted and powdered, with 
false hair and dyed eyebrows, trying to look as much like 
a paid courtesan as possible, — the elderly matron, skipping 
forward on high heels, and attempting by the assum.ption of 
juvenile airs and graces to cover up and conceal the obtrusive 
facts of a too obvious paunch and overlapping bosom, — the 
would-be dandy and ' beau' of seventy, strangely possessed by 
youthful desires and manifesting the same by goat-like caper- 
ings at the heels of young married women, — these and such- 
like contemptible units of a contemptible social swarm, passed 
before us like puppets at a country fair, and aroused us in turn 
to laughter or disdain. While we yet lingered over our wine, 
a man came in alone, and sat down at the table next to ours ; 
— he had with him a book which, after giving his orders for 
luncheon, he at once opened at a marked place and began to 
read with absorbed attention. I recognised the cover of the 
volume and knew it to be Mavis Clare's '* Differences." A 
haze floated before my sight, — a sensation of rising tears was 
in my throat, — I saw the fair face, earnest eyes and sweet smile 
of Mavis, — that woman-wearer of the laurel-crown, — that 
keeper of the lilies of purity and peace. Alas, those lilies ! — 
they were for me 



" des Heurs etranges,- 
Avec leurs airs de sceptres d'anges ; 
De thyrses lutnineux pour doigts de seraphins, — 
Leurs parfums sont trop torts, tout ensemble, et trop fins !" 

I shaded my eyes with one hand, — }et under that shade I 
felt that Lucio watched me closely. Presently he spoke softly, 
just as if he had read my thoughts. 

*' Considering the effect a perfectly innocent woman has on 
the mind of even an evil man, it's strange, isn't it, that there 
are so few of them !" 

I did not answer. 

** In the present day," he went on, " there are a number of 
females clamouring like unnatural hens in a barn-yard about 
their ' rights' and ' wrongs. ' Their greatest right, their highest 
privilege is to guide and guard the souls of men. I'his, they 
for the most part, throw away as worthless. Aristocratic 
women, royal women even, hand over the care of their chil- 
dren to hired attendants and inferiors, and then are surprised 
and injured if those children turn out to be either fools or 
blackguards. If I were controller of the State, I would make 
it a law that every mother should be bound to nurse and guard 
her children herself as nature intended, unless prevented by 
ill-health, in which case she would have to get a couple of 
doctors' certificates to certify the fact. Otherwise, any woman 
refu-ing to comply with the law should be sentenced to im- 
prisonment with hard labour. This would bring them to their 
senses. The idleness, wickedness, extravagance and selfishness 
of women, make men the boors and egotists they are." 

I looked up. 

"The devil is in the whole business," I said bitterly. ** If 
women were good, men would have nothing to do with them. 
Look round you at what is called * society' ! How many 
men there are who deliberately choose tamted women for 
their wives, and leave the innocent uncared for ! Take Mavis 
Clare " 

-^•Edmond Eostand. ' La Prtncesse Lointaine.' 


"Oh you were thinking of Mavis Clare, were you?" he 
rejoined, with a quick glance at me. " But she would be a 
difficult prize for any man to win. She does not seek to be 
married, — and she is not uncared for, since the whole world 
cares for her. ' ' 

" That is a sort of impersonal love," I answered. " It does 
not give her the protection such a woman needs, and ought to 

"Do you want to become her lover?" he asked with a 
slight smile. " I'm afraid you've no chance." 

"I! Her lover! Good God!" I exclaimed, the blood 
rushing hotly to my face at the mere suggestion. " What a 
profane idea !" 

" You are right, — it is profane," he agreed, still smiling. 
*'It is as though I should propose your stealing the sacra- 
mental cup from a church, wiih just this difference, — you 
might succeed in running off with the cup because it is only 
the church's property, but you would never succeed in win- 
ning Mavis Clare, inasmuch as she belongs to God. You 
know what Milton says : 

' So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity 
That when a soul is found sincerely so, 
A thousand liveried angels lacquey her, 
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt, 
And in clear dream and solemn vision 
Tell her of things which no gross ear can hear, 
Till oft converse with heavenly habitants 
Begin to cast a beam on th'outward shape 
The unpolluted temple of the mind, 
And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence 
Till all be made immortal 1" 

He quoted the lines softly and with an exquisite gravity. 

"That is what you see in Mavis Clare," he continued — 
" that ' beam on the outward shape' which ' turns it by degrees 
to the soul's essence,' — and which makes her beautiful without 
what is called beauty by lustful men. ' ' 


I moved impatiently, and looked out from the window near 
which we were seated, at the yellow width of the flowing 
Thames below. 

"Beauty, according to man's ordinary standard," pursued 
Lucio, " means simply good flesh, — nothing more. Flesh, 
arranged prettily and roundly on the always ugly skeleton be- 
neath, — flesh, daintily coloured and soft to the touch without 
scar or blemish. P.enty of it too, disposed in the jjroper 
places. It is the most perishable sort of commodity, — an ill- 
ness spoils it, — a trying c imate ruins it, — age wrinkles it, — 
death destroys it, — but it is all the majority of men look for 
in their bargains with the fair sex. The most utter ro/ie of 
sixty that ever trotted jauntily down Piccadilly pretending to 
be thirty, expects like Shylock his ' pound' or several pounds 
of youthful flesh. The desire is neither refined nor intellec- 
tual, but there it is, — and it is solely on this account that the 
Madies' of the music-hall become the tainted members and 
future mothers of the aristocracy." 

*' It does not need the ladies of the music-hall to taint the 
already tainted !" I said. 

*' True !" and he looked at me wnth kindly commiseration. 
" Let us put the whole misch'ef down to the ' new' fiction !" 

We rose then, having finished luncheon, and leaving the 
Savoy we went on to Arthur's. Here we sat down in a quiet 
corner and began to talk of our future p'ans. It took me very 
little time to make up my mind, — all quarters of the world 
were the same to me, and I was really indifferent as to where 
I went. Yet there is always something suggestive and fasci- 
nating about the idea of a first visit to Egypt, and I willingly 
agreed to accompany Lucio thither and remain the winter. 

*' We will avoid society," he said. " The well-bred, well- 
educated ' swagger' people who throw champagne-bottles at 
the Sphinx, and think a donkey-race 'ripping fun' shall not 
have the honour of our company. Cairo is full of such 
dancing dolls, so we will not stay there. Old Nile has many 
attractions ; and lazy luxury on a dahabeah will soothe }Our 



overwrought nerves. I suggest our leaving England within a 

1 consented, — and while he went over to a table and wrote 
some letters in preparation for our journey, I looked through 
the day's papers. There was nothing to read in them, — for 
though all the world's news palpitates into Gieat Britain on 
obediently throbbing electric wires, each editor of each little 
pennyworth, being jealous of every other editor of every other 
pennyworth, only admits into his columns exactly what suits 
his politics or personally pleases his taste, and the interests 
of the public at large are scarcely considered. Poor, bam- 
boozled, patient public ! — no wonder it is beginning to think 
that a halfpenny spent on a newspaper which is only pur- 
chased 10 be thrown away, enough and more than enough. 
I was still glancing up and down the heavy columns of the 
Americanized "Pall Mall Gazette," and Lucio was still 
writing, when a page-boy entered with a telegram. 

"Mr Tempest?" 

"Yes." And I snatched the yellow-covered missive and 
tore it open, — and read the few words it contained almost 
uncomprehendingly. They ran thus — 

" Relurn at once. Something alarming has happened. 
Afraid to act without you. Mavis Clare." 

A curious chill came over me, — the telegram fell from my 
hands on the table. Lucio took it up and glanced at it. 
Then, regarding me stedfastly, he said — 

"Of course you must go. You can catch the four-forty 
train if you take a hansom." 

"And you?" I muttered. My throat was dry and I could 
scarcely speak. 

"I'll stay at the Grand, and wait for news. Don't delay 
a moment,— Miss Clare would not have taken it upon herself 
to send this message, unless there had been serious cause." 

"What do you think — what do you suppose " I began. 

He stopped me by a slight imperative gesture. 



** I think nothing — 1 suppose nothing. I only urge you to 
start immediately. Come!" 

And almost before I realized it, he had taken me with him 
out into the hall of the club, where he helped me on with my 
coat, gave me my hat, and sent for a cab to take me to the 
railway station. We scarcely exchanged farewells, — stupefied 
with the suddenness of the unexpected summons back to the 
home I had left in the morning, as I thought, for ever, I 
hardly knew what I was doing or where I was going, till I 
found myself alone in the train, returning to Warwickshire as 
fast as steam would bear me, with the gloom of the deepen- 
ing dusk around me, and such a fear and horror at my heart 
as I dared not think of or define. What was the ' something 
alarming' that had happened ? How was it that Mavis Clare 
had telegraphed lo me? These, and endless o.her questions 
tormented my brain, — and I was afraid to suggest answers to 
any of them. When I arrived at the familiar station, there 
was no one waiting to receive me, so I hired a fly, and was 
driven up to my own house just as the short evening deepened 
into night. A low autumnal wind was sighing restlessly among 
the trees like a wandering soul in torment, — not a star shone 
in the black depths of the sky. Directly the carriage stopped, 
a slim figure in white came out under the porch to meet me, — 
it was Mavis, her angel's face grave and pale with emotion. 

*' It is you at last !" she said in a trembling voice. " Thank 
God you have come !" 


I GRASPED her hands hard. 

''What is it?" I began; — then, looking round I saw that 
the hall was full of panic-stricken servants, some of whom 
came forward, confusedly murmuring together about being 
'afraid' and 'not knowing what to do.' I motioned them 
back by a gesture and turned again to Mavis Clare. 


" Tell me, — quick — what is wrong?" 

"We fear something has hapi)ened to Lady Sibyl," she 
replied at once. " Her rooms are locked, and we cannot 
make her hear. Her maid got alarmed, and ran over to my 
house to ask me what was best to be done, — I came at once, 
and knocked and called, but could get no response. You 
know the windows are too high to reach from the ground, — 
there is no ladder on the premises long enough for the purpose, 
and no one can climb up that side of the building. I begged 
some of the servants to break open the door by force, — but 
they would not, — they were all afraid; and I did not like to 
act on my own responsibility, so I telegraphed for you " 

I sprang away from her before she had finished speaking 
and hurried upstairs at once, — outside the door of the ante- 
room which led into my wife's luxurious ' suite' of apartments, 
I paused breathless. 

''Sibyl !" I cried. 

There was not a sound. Mavis had followed me, and stood 
by my side trembling a little. Two or three of the servants 
had also crept up the stairs, and were clinging to the banisters, 
listening nervously. 

"Sibyl !" I called again. Still absolute silence. I turned 
round upon the waiting and anxious domestics with an assump- 
tion of calmness. 

'•Lady Sibyl is probably not in her rooms at all," I said. 
" She may have gone out unobserved. This door of the ante- 
chamber has a spring-lock, — it can easily get fast shut by the 
merest accident. Bring a strong hammer, — or a crowbar, — 
anything that will break it open, — if you had had sense you 
would have obeyed Miss Clare, and done this a couple of 
hours ago." 

And I waited with enforced composure, while my instruc- 
tions were carried out as rapidly as possible. Two of the men- 
servants appeared with the necessary tools, and very soon the 
house resounded with clamour, — blow after blow was dealt 
upon the solid oaken door for some time without success, — the 


spring-lock would not yield, — neither would the strong hinges 
give way. Presently, however, after ten minutes' hard labour, 
one of the finely carved panels was smashed in, — then another, 
— and, springing over the debris, I rushed through the ante- 
room into the boudoir, — then paused, listening, and calling 
again, ''Sibyl!" No one followed me, — some indefinable 
instinct, some nameless dread, held the servants back, and 
Mavis Clare as well. I was alone, . . . and in complete 
darkness. Groping about, with my heart beating furiously, 
I sought for the ivory button in the wall which would, at 
pressure, flood the rooms with electric light, but somehow I 
could r^ot find it. My hand came in contact with various 
familiar things which I lecognised by touch, — rare bits of 
china, bronzes, vases, pictures, — costly trifles that were 
heaped up, as I knew, m this particular apartment with a 
lavish luxury and disregard of cost befitting a wanton eastern 
empress of old time, — cautiously feeling my way along, I 
started with terror to see, as I thought, a tall figure outline 
itself suddenly against the darkness, — white, spectral and 
luminous, — a figure that, as I stared at it aghast, raised a 
pallid hand and pointed me forward with a menacing air of 
scorn. In my dazed horror at this apparition, or delusion, I 
stumbled over the heavy trailing folds of a velvet /^r//(?;r, and 
knew by this that 1 had passed from the boudoir into the ad- 
joining bedroom. Again I stopped, — calling, "Sibyl!" but 
my voice had scarcely strength enough to raise itself above a 
whisper. Giddy and confused as I was, I remembered that 
the electric light in this room was fixed at the side of the 
toilet-table, and I stepped hurriedly in that direction, when 
all at once in the thick gloom I touched something clammy 
and cold like dead flesh, and brushed against a garment that 
exhaled faint perfume, and rustled at my touch with a silken 
sound. This alarmed me more thoroughly than the spectre 
I fancied I had just seen, — I drew back shudderingly against 
the wall, — and in so doing, my fingers involuntarily closed on 
the polished ivory stud, which, like a fairy talisman in modern 


civilization, emits radiance at the owner's will, I pressed it 
nervously, — the light blazed forth through the rose-tinted 
shells which shaded its dazzling clearness, and showed me 
where I stood, . . . within an arm's length of a strange, stiff 
white creature, that sat staring at itself in the silver- framed 
mirror with wide-open, fixed and glassy eyes. 

"Sibyl!" I gasped. "My wife . . . !" but the words 
died chokingly in my throat. Was it indeed my wife ! — this 
frozen statue of a woman, watching her own impassive image 
thus intently ! I looked upon her wonderingly, — doubtingly, 
— as if she were some stranger ; — it took me time to recognise 
her features, and the bronze-gold darkness of her long hair 
which fell loosely about her in a lavish wealth of rippling 
waves, . . . her left hand hung limply over the arm of the 
chair in which, like some carven ivory goddess, she sat en- 
throned, — and tremblingly, slowly, reluctantly, I advanced and 
took that hand. Cold as ice it lay in my palm much as 
though it were a waxen model of itself; — it glittered with 
jewels, — and I studied every ring upon it with a curious, dull 
pertinacity, like one who seeks a clue to identity. That large 
turquoise in a diamond setting was a marriage-gift from a 
duchess, — that opal her father gave her, — the lustrous circle 
of sapphires and brilliants surmounting her wedding-ring was 
my gift, — that ruby I seemed to know, — well well ! what a 
mass of sparkling value wasted on such fragile clay ! I peered 
into her face, — then at the reflection of that face in the 
mirror, — and again I grew perplexed, —was it, could it be 
Sibyl after all ? Sibyl was beautiful, —this dead thing had a 
devilish smile on its blue, parted lips, and frenzied horror in 
its eyes ! Suddenly something tense in my brain seemed to 
snap and give way, — dropping the chill fingers I held, I cried 

" Mavis ! Mavis Clare !" 

In a moment she was with me, — in a glance she compre- 
hended all. Falling on her knees by the dead woman she 
broke into a passion of weeping. 


"Oh, poor girl!" she cried — '* Oh, poor, unhappy, mis- 
guided girl !" 

I stared at her gloomily. It seemed to me very strange 
that she should weep for sorrows not her own. There was a 
fire in my brain, — a confused trouble in my thoughts, — I 
looked at my dead wife with her fixed gaze and evil smile, 
sitting rigidly upright, and robed in the mocking sheen of her 
rose-silk peignoir, showered with old lace, after the costliest 
of Paris fashions, — then at the living, tender-souled, earnest 
creature, famed for her genius throughout the world, who 
knelt on the ground, sobbing over the stiffening hand on 
which so many rare gems glistened derisively, — and an im- 
pulse rose in me stronger than myself, moving me lo wild and 
clamorous speech. 

" Get up. Mavis !" I cried. " Do not kneel there ! Go, — 
go out of this room, — out of my sight ! You do not know 
what she was — this woman whom I married, — I deemed her 
an angel, but she was a fiend, — yes, Mavis, a fiend ! Look at 
her staring at her own image in the glass, — you cannot call 
her beautiful — 7iow / She smiles, you see, — just as she smiled 
last night when, . . . ah, you know nothing of last night ! 
I tell you, go!" and I stamped my foot almost furiously. 
*' This air is contaminated, — it will poison you ! The per- 
fume of Paris and the effluvia of death intermingled are suffi- 
cient to breed a pestilence ! Go quickly, — inform the house- 
hold their mistress is dead, — have the blinds drawn down, — 
show all the exterior signs of decent and fashionable woe," — 
and 1 began laughing deliriously. **Tell the servants they 
may count upon expensive mourning, — for all that money can 
do shall be done in homage to King Death ! Let everyone 
in the place eat and drink as much as they can or will, — and 
sleep, or chatter as such menials love to do, of hearses, graves 
and sudden disasters ; — but let ;;/<? be left alone, — alone with 
/ler ; — we have much to say to one another !" 

White and trembling, Mavis rose up and stood gazing at 
me in fear and pity. 


'* Alone?" she faltered. " You are not fit to be alone." 

** No, I am not fit to be, but I must be," I rejoined 
quickly and harshly. ^' This woman and I loved — after the 
manner of brutes, and were wedded or rather mated in a 
similar manner, though an archbishop blessed the pairing 
and called upon Heaven to witness its sanctity ! Yet we 
parted ill friends, — and dead though she is, I choose to pass 
the night with her, — I shall learn much knowledge from her 
silence. Tomorrow the grave and the servants of the grave 
may claim her, but to-night she is mine." 

The girl's sweet eyes brimmed over with tears. 

'* Oh, you are too distracted to know what you are saying," 
she murmured. ''You do not even try to discover how she 

"That is easy enough to guess," I answered quickly, and 
I took up a small dark-coloured bottle labelled ' Poison' that 
I had already perceived on the toilet-table. *' This is uncorked 
and empty. What it contained I do not know, — but there 
must be an inquest of course, — people must be allow^ed to 
make money for themselves out of her ladyship's rash act. And 
see there — " here I pointed to some loose sheets of note-paper 
covered with writing, and partially concealed by a filmy lace 
handkerchief which had evidently been hastily thrown across 
them, and a pen and inkstand close by. " There is some 
admirable reading prepared for me doubtless ! — the last mes- 
sage from the beloved dead is sacred, Mavis Clare ; surely you, 
a writer of tender romances can realize this ! — and realizing 
it, you will do as I ask you, — leave me !" 

She looked at me in deep compassion, and slowly turned 
to go. 

*'God help you!" she said sobbingly. "God console 
you !" 

At this some demon in me broke loose, and springing to her 
side I caught her hands in mine. 

"Do not dare to talk of God!" I said in passionate ac- 
cents. "Not in this room, — not in that presence. Why 


should you call curses down upon me ? The help of God 
means punishment,— the consolations of God are terrible ! 
For strength must acknowledge itself weak before He will help 
it, — and a heart must be broken before He will console it. 
But what do I say ! — I believe in jio God ! I believe in an 
unknown Force that encomjDasses me and hunts me down to 
the grave, but nothing more I ^7/^ thought as I do, — and with 
reason, — for what has God done for her? She was made evil 
from the first, — a born snare of Satan ..." 

Something caught my breath here — I stopped, unable to 
utter another word. Mavis stared at me affrighted, and I 
stared back again. 

''What is it?" she whispered alarmingly. I struggled to 
speak, — finally, with difficulty I answered her — 

*' Nothing !" 

And I motioned her away with a gesture of entreaty. The 
expression of my face must have startled or intimidated her I 
fancy, for she retreated hastily and I watched her disappearing 
as if she were the phantom of a dream, — then, as she passed 
out through the boudoir I drew close the velvet portiere be- 
hind her and locked the intermediate door. This done I 
went slowly back to the side of my dead wife. 

'*Now, Sibyl," I said aloud, '' we are alone, you and I — 
alone with our own reflected images, — you dead, and I living. 
You have no terrors for me in your present condition, — your 
beauty has gone. Your smile, your eyes, your touch cannot 
stir me to a throb of the passion you craved, yet wearied of. 
What have you to say to me ? — I have heard that the dead 
can speak at times, — and you owe me reparation, — reparation 
for the wrong you did me, — the lie on which you based our 
marriage, — the guilt you cherished in your heart. Shall I 
read your petition for forgiveness here?" 

And I gathered up the written sheets of note-paper in one 
hand, feeling them rather than seeing them, for my eyes were 
fixed on the pallid corpse in its ro e-silk ' negligee' and jewels, 
that gazed at itself so pertinaciously in the shining mirror. I 


drew a chair close to it, and sat down, observing likewise the 
reflection of my own haggard face in the glass beside tliat of 
the self-murdered woman. Turning presently, I began to scru- 
tinize my immovable companion more closely — and perceived 
that she was very lightly clothed, — under the silk peignoir 
there was only a flowing white garment of soft fine material 
lavishly embroidered, through which the statuesque contour 
of her rigid limbs could be distinctly seen. Stooping, I felt 
her heart, — I knew it was pulseless ; yet I half imagined I 
should feel its beat. As I withdrew my hand, something 
scaly and glistening caught my eye, and looking I lerceived 
Lucio's marriage-gift circling her waist, — the flexible emerald 
snake with its diamond crest and ruby eyes. It fascinated 
me, — coiled round that dead body it seemed alive and sen- 
tient, — if it had lifted its glittering head and hissed at me I 
should scarcely have been surprised. I sat back for a moment 
in my chair, almost as rigid as the corpse beside me, — I stared 
again, as ihe corpse stared always, into the mirror which pic- 
tured us both, we 'twain in one,' as the sentimxCntalists aver 
of wedded folk, though in truth it often happens that there 
are no tw^o creatures in the world more widely separated than 
husband and wife. I heard stealthy movements and sup- 
pressed whisperings in the passage outside, and guessed that 
some of the servants were there watching and waiting, — but I 
cared nothing for that. I was absorbed in the ghastly night 
interview I had planned for myself, and I so entered into the 
spirit of the thing that I turned on all the electric lamps in 
the room, besides lighting two tall clusters of shaded candles 
on either side of the toilet-table. When all the surroundings 
were thus rendered as brilliant as possible, so that the corpse 
looked more livid and ghastly by comparison, I seated myself 
once more, and prepared to read the last message of the dead. 
''Now Sibyl," I muttered, leaning forward a little, and 
noting with a morbid interest that the jaws of the corpse had 
relaxed a little within the last few minutes, and that the smile 
on the face was therefore more hideous, "confess your sins. 


— for I am here to listen. Such dumb, impressive eloquence 
as yours deserves attention !" 

A gust of wind fled round the house with a wailing cry, — 
the windows shook, and the candles flickered. I waited till 
every sound had died away, and then — with a glance at my 
dead wife, under the sudden impression that she had heard 
what I said and knew what I was doing, I began lo read. 


Thus ran the ' last document, ' commencing abruptly and 
without prefix : 

''I have made up my mind to die. Not out of passion 
or petulance, — but from deliberate choice, and, as I think, 
necessity. My brain is tired of problems, — my body is tired 
of life; it is best to make an end. The idea of death, — 
which means annihilation, — is very sweet to me. I am glad 
to feel that by my own will and act I can silence this uneasy 
throbbing of my heart, this turmoil and heat of my blood, — 
this tortured aching of my nerves. Young as I am, I have 
no delight now in existence, — I see nothing but my love's 
luminous eyes, his god-like features, his enthralling smile, — 
and these are lost to me. For a brief while he has been my 
world, life and time, — he has gone, — and without him there 
is no universe. How could I endure the slow, wretched, 
passing of hours, days, weeks, months and years alone ? — 
though it is better to be alone than in the dull companion- 
ship of the self-satisfied, complacent and arrogant fool who 
is my husband. He has left me for ever, so he says in a 
letter the maid brought to me an hour ago. It is quite 
what I expected of him, — what man of his type could find 
jjardon for a blow to his own ajtiour propre I If he had 
studied my nature, entered into my emotions, or striven in the 


least to guide and sustain me, — if he had shown me any sign 
of a great, true love such as one sometimes dreams of and 
seldom finds, — I think I should be sorry for him now, — 1 
should even ask his forgiveness for having married him. But 
he has treated me precisely as he might treat a paid mistress, 
— that is, he has fed me, clothed me, and provided me with 
money and jewels in return for making me the toy of his 
passions, — but he has not given me one touch of sympathy — 
one proof of self-denial or humane forbearance. Therefore, 
I owe him nothing. And now he, and my love who will not 
be my lover, have gone away together ; I am free to do as I 
will with this small pulse within me called life, which is after 
all, only a thread, easily broken. There is no one to say me 
nay, or to hold my hand back from giving myself the final 
quietus. It is well I have no friends ; it is good for me that I 
have probed the hypocrisy and social sham of the world, and 
that I have mastered the following hard truths of life,— that 
there is no love without lust, — no friendship without self- 
interest, — no religion without avarice, — and no so-called virtue 
without its accompanying stronger vice. Who, knowing these 
things, would care to take part in them ! On the verge of 
the grave I look back along the short vista of my years, and 
I see myself a child in this very place, this wooded Willows- 
mere ; I can note how that life began to which I am about to 
put an end. Pampered, petted and spoilt, told that I must 
' look pretty' and take pleasure in my clothes, I was even at 
the age of ten, capable of a certain amount of coquetry. Old 
7'oues, smelling of wine and tobacco, were eager to take me on 
their knees and pinch my soft flesh ; — they would press my 
innocent lips with their withered ones, — withered and con- 
taminated by the kisses of cocottcs and ' soiled doves' of the 
town ! — I have often wondered how it is these men can dare 
to touch a young child's mouth, knowing in themselves what 
beasts they are! I see my nurse,— a trained liar and time- 
server, giving herself more airs than a queen, and forbidding 
me to speak to this child or that child, because they were 


'beneath' mc ; — then came my governess, full of a prurient 
prudery, as bad a woman in morals as ever lived, yet ' highly 
recommended' and with excellent references, and wearing an 
assumption of the strictest virtue, like many equally * loose' 
clergymen's wives I have known. I soon found her out, — for 
even as a child I was painfully observant, — and the stories she 
and my mother's French maid used to tell, in lowered voices 
now and then broken by coarse laughter, were sufficient to 
enlighten me as to her true character. Yet, beyond having 
a supreme contempt for the woman who practised religious 
austerity outwardly and was at heart a rake, I gave small con- 
sideration to the difficult problem such a nature suggested. 
I lived, — how strange it seems that I should be writing now 
of myself, as past and done with ! — yes, I lived in a dreamy, 
more or less idyllic state of mind, thinking without being con- 
scious of thought, full of fancies concerning the flowers, trees 
and birds, — wishing for things of which I knew nothing, — 
imagining myself a queen at times, and again, a peasant. I 
was an omnivorous reader, — and I was specially fond of poetry. 
I used to pore over the mystic verse of Shelley, and judged 
him then as a sort of demi-god ; — and never, even when I 
knew all about his life, could I realize him as a man with a 
thin, shrieking falsetto voice and ' loose' notions concerning 
women. But I am quite sure it was good for his fame that he 
was drowned in early youth with so many melancholy and 
dramatic surroundings, — it saved him, I consider, from a 
possibly vicious and repulsive old age. I adored Keats till I 
knew he had wasted his passion on a Fanny Brawn, — and then 
the glamour of him vanished. I can offer no reason for this, 
— I merely set down the fact. I made a hero of Lord Byron, 
— in fact he has always formed for me the only heroical type 
of poet. Strong in himself and pitiless in his love for women, 
he treated them for the most part as they merited, considering 
the singular and unworthy specimens of the sex it was his mis- 
fortune to encounter. I used to wonder, when reading these 
men's amorous lines, whether love would ever come my way, 


and what beatific state of emotion I should then enjoy. Then 
came the rough awakening from all my dreams, — childhood 
melted into womanhood, — and at sixteen 1 was taken up to 
town with my parents to ' know something of the ways and 
manners of society' before finally 'coming out.' Oh, those 
ways and manners ! I learnt them to perfection ! Astonished 
at first, then bewildered, and allowed no time to form any judg- 
ment on what I saw, I w^as hurried through a general vague 
* impression' of things such as I had never imagined or dreamed 
of. While I was yet lost in wonderment, and kept constantly 
in companionship with young girls of my own rank and age, 
who nevertheless seemed much more advanced in knowledge 
of the world than I, my father suddenly informed me that 
Willowsmere was lost to us, — that he could not afford to keep 
it up, — and that we should return there no more Ah, what 
tears I shed ! — what a fury of grief consumed me ! — I did not 
then comprehend the difficult entanglements of either wealth 
or poverty ; — all I could realize was that the doors of my dear 
old home were closed upon me for ever. After that, I think 
I grew cold and hard in disposition ; I had never loved my 
mother very dearly, — in fact I had seen very little of her, as 
she was always aw^ay visiting, if not entertaining visitors, and 
she seldom had me with her, — so that when she was suddenly 
struck down by a first shock of paralysis, it affected me but 
little. She had her doctors and nurses, — I had my governess 
still with me, and my mother's sister. Aunt Charlotte, came to 
keep house for us, — so I began to analyze society for myself, 
without giving any expression oi my opinions on what I ob- 
served. I was not yet ' out,' but I went everywhere where 
girls of my age were invited, and perceived things without 
showing that I had any faculty of perception. I cultivated a 
passionless and cold exterior, — a listle.^s, uninterested and 
frigid demeanour, — for I discovered that this was accepted by 
many people as dullness or stupidity, and that by assuming 
such a character, certain otherwise crafty persons would talk 
more readily before me, and betray themselves and their vices 




unawares. Thus my ' social education' began in grim earnest ; 
— women of title and renown would ask me to their * quiet 
teas,' because I was what they were pleased to call a * harm- 
less girl,' — * rather pretty, but dull,' — and allow me to assist 
them in entertaining the lovers who called upon them while 
their husbands were out. I remember on one occasion, a 
great lady famous for two things, her diamonds ai)d her in- 
timacy with the Queen, kissed her ' cavaliere servente,' a 
noted sporting earl, with considerable abandon in my presence. 
He muttered something about me, — I heard it ; — but his 
amorous mistress merely answered in a whisper — * Oh, it's 
only Sibyl Elton,, — she understands nothing.' Afterwards 
hosvever, when he had gone, she turned to me with a grin 
and remarked — * You saw me kiss Bertie, didn't you? I 
often do ; he's quite like my brother!' I made no reply — I 
only smiled vaguely ; and the next day she sent me a valuable 
diamond ring, which I at once returned to her with a prim 
little note, stating that I was much obliged, but that my 
father considered me too young as yet to wear diamonds. 
Why do I think of these trifles now I wonder ! — now when I 
am about to take my leave of life and all its lies ! . . . There 
is a little bird singing outside my bedroom window, — such a 
pretty creature. I suppose it is happy ? — it should be, as it is 
not human. . . . The tears are in my eyes as I listen to its 
.sweet warbling, and think that it will be living and singing 
still to-day at sunset when I am dead ! 

That last sentence was mere sentiment, for I am not sorry 
to die. If I felt the least regret about it I should not carry 
out my intention. I must resume my narrative, — for it is an 
analysis I am trying to make of myself, to find out if I can 
whether there are no excuses to be found for my particular 
disposition, — whether it is not after all the education and 
training I have had that have made me what I am, or whether 
indeed I was born evil from the first. The circumstances 
that surrounded me did not, at any rate, tend to soften or 


improve my character. I had just passed my seventeenth 
birthday, when one morning my father called me into his 
library and told me the true position of his affairs. I learned 
that he was crippled on all sides with debt, — that he lived on 
advances made to him by Jew usurers, — and that these ad- 
vances were trusted to him solely on the speculation that I, 
his only daughter, would make a sufficiently rich marriage to 
enable him to repay all loans with heavy interest. He went on 
to say that he hoped I would act sensibly, — and that when 
any men showed indications of becoming suitors for my hand, 
I would, before encouraging them, inform him, in order that 
he might make sirict enquiries as to their actual extent of for- 
time. I then understood, for the first time, that I was for 
sale. I listened in silence till he had finished, — then I asked 
him — ' Love, I suppose, is not to be considered in the matter?' 
He laughed, and assured me it was much easier to love a rich 
man than a poor one, as I would find out after a little ex- 
1-erience. He added, with some hesitation, that to help make 
both ends meet, as the expenses of town life were consider- 
able, he had arranged to take a young American lady under 
his charge, a Miss Diana Chesney, who wished to be intro- 
duced into English society, and who would pay two thousand 
guineas a year to him for that privilege, and for Aunt Char- 
lotte's services as chaperon. I do not remember now what 
I said to him when I heard this, — [ knoN\ that my long 
suppressed feelings broke out in a storm of fury, and that for 
the moment he was completely taken aback by the force of my 
indignation. An American boarder in our house ! — it seemed 
to me as outrageous and undignified as the conduct of a 
woman I once knew, who, favoured by the Queen's patronage 
with ' free' apartments in Kensington Palace, took from time 
to time on the sly, an American or Colonial ' paying-guest,' 
who adopted forthwith the address of Her Majesty's birthplace 
as her own, thus lowering the whole prestige of that historic 
habitation. My wrath however was useless ; — the bargain 
was arranged, — my father, regardless of his proud lineage and 


the social dignity of his position, had degraded himself, in 
my opinion, to the level of a sort of superior lodging-house 
keeper, — and from that time I lost all my former respect for 
him. Of course it can be argued that I was wrong, — that I 
ought to have honoured him for turning his name to monetary 
account by loaning it out as a protective shield and panoply 
for an American woman without anything but the dollars of a 
vulgar * railway-king' to back her up in society, — but I could 
not see it in that light. I retreated into myself more than 
ever, — and became more than pleasantly known for my cold- 
ness, reserve and hauteur. Miss Chesney came, and strove 
hard to be my friend, — but she soon found that impossible. 
She is a good-hearted creature I believe, — but she is badly 
bred and badly trained, as all her compatriots are, more or less, 
despite their smattering of an European education. I disliked 
her from the first, and have spared no pains to show it. Yet I 
know she will be Countess of Elton as soon as it is decently 
possible, — say, after the year's ceremonious mourning for my 
mother has expired, and perhaps three months' hypocritical 
wearing of black for me, — my father believes himself to be 
still young and passably good-looking, and he is quite inca- 
pable of resisting the fortune she will bring him. When she 
took up her fixed abode in our house, and Aunt Charlotte 
became her paid chaperon, I seldom went out to any social 
gatherings, for I could not endure the idea of being seen in 
her companionship. I kept to my own room a great deal, and 
thus secluded, read many books. All the fashionable fiction 
of the day passed through my hands, much to my gradual 
enlightenment, if not to my edification. One day, — a day 
that is stamped on my memory as a kind of turning-point in 
my life, — I read a novel by a woman which I did not at first 
entirely understand, — but on going over some of its passages a 
second time, all at once its horrible lasciviousness flashed upon 
me and filled me with such a genuine disgust that I flung it on 
the ground in a fit of loathing and contempt. Yet I had seen 
it praised in all the leading journals of the day ; its obscenities 


were hinted as 'daring,' — its vulgarities were quoted as 'bril- 
liant wit,' — in fact so many laudatory columns were written 
about it in the press that I resolved to read it again. Encour- 
aged by the ' literary censors' of the time, 1 did so, and little by 
little the insidious abomination of it filtered into my mind and 
sfave(^ thej-e. I began to think about it,— and by and-by 
found pleasure in thinking about it. I sent for other books by 
the same tainted hand, and my appetite for that kind of pru- 
rient romance grew keener. At this particular juncture, as 
chance or fate would have it, an acquaintance of mine, the 
daughter of a Marchioness, a girl with large black eyes and 
those full protruding lips which remind one unconsciously of 
a swine's snout, brought me two or three odd volumes of the 
poems of Swinburne. Always devoted to poetry, and consid- 
ering it to be the higliest of the arts, and up to that period 
having been ignorant of this writer's work, I turned over the 
books with eagerness, expecting to enjoy the usual sublime 
emotions which it is the privilege and glory of the poet to 
inspire in mortals less d.vinely endowed than himself, and 
who turn to him 

" for help to climb 
Beyond the highest peaks of time." 

Now I should like, if I could do so, to explain clearly the 
effect of this satyr-songster upon my mind, — for I believe 
there are many women to whom his works have been deadlier 
than the deadliest p )ison, and far more soul-corrupting than 
any book of Zola's or the most pernicious of modern French 
writers. At first I read the poems quickly, with a certain 
pleasure in the mere swing and jangle of rhythm, and without 
paying much attention to the subject-matter of the verse, — 
but presently, as though a lurid blaze of lightning had stripped 
a fair tree of its adorning leaves, my senses suddenly perceived 
the cruelty and fiendish sensuality concealed under the or- 
nate language and persuasive rhymes, — and for a moment I 
paused in my reading, and closed my eyes, shuddering and 
sick at heart. Was human nature as base and abandoned 


as this man declared it to be? Was there no God but 
Lust? Were men and women lower and more depraved in 
their passions and appetites than the very beasts? I mused 
and dreamed, — I pored over the ' l.aus A'eneris' — ' Faus- 
tine' and 'Anactoria,' till 1 felt myself being dragged down 
to the brute level of the mind that conceived such out- 
rages to decency. I drank in Swinburne's own fiendish con- 
tempt of God, and 1 read over and over again his verses 
' Before a Crucifix' till I knew them by heart ; — till they rang 
in my brain as persistently as any nursery jingle, and drove 
my thoughts into as haughty a scorn of Christ and His teach- 
ings as any unbelieving Jew. It is nothing to me now, — 
now, when without hope or faith or love, I am about to take 
the final plunge into eternal darkness and silence, — but for 
the sake of those who have the comfort of a religion, I ask, 
why, in a so-called Christian country, is such a hideous blas- 
phemy as ' Before a Crucifix' allowed to circulate among the 
people without so much as one reproof from those who elect 
themselves judges of literature ? I have seen many noble 
writers condemned unheard, — many have been accused of 
blasphemy, whose works tend quite the other way, — but these 
lines are permitted to work their cruel mischief unchecked, and 
the writer of them is glorified as though he were a benefactor 
to mankind instead of a corrupter. I quote them here, from 
bitter memory, that I may not be deemed as exaggerating their 
nature — 

" So when our souls look back to thee, 
They sicken, seeing against thy side. 

Too foul to speak of or to see. 
The leprous likeness of a bride, 

Whose kissing lips through his lips grown 

Leave their God rotten, to the bouc. 

When we would sec thee man, and know 
What heart thou had'st towards man indeed, 

Lo, thy blood-blackened altars ; lo, 
The lips of priests that pray and feed. 

While their own hell' s worm curls and licks 

The poison of the crucifix. 


Thou bad'st the children come to thee, — 

IV/ujf children now but curses come. 
What manhood in that God can be 

Who sees their worship and is dumb? — 
No soul that lived, loved, wrought, and died 
Is this, their Carrion Crucified / 

Nay, if their God and thou be one, 

If thou and this thing be the same, 
Thou should'st not look upon the sun, 

The sun grows haggard at thy name ; 
Come down, be done with, cease, give o'er, 
Hide thyself, strive not, be no more." 

From the time of reading this, I used to think of Christ as 
* carrion crucified' ; — if I ever thought at all. I found out 
that no one had ever reproached Mr Swinburne for this term, 
— that it did not interfere with his chances for the Laureate- 
ship, — and that not even a priest of the church had been bold- 
spoken or zealous enough in his Master's cause to publicly 
resent the shameless outrage. So I concluded that Swinburne 
must be right in his opinions, and I followed tlie lazy and 
unthinking course of social movement, spending my days 
with such literature as stored my brain with a complete knowl- 
edge of things evil and pernicious. Whatever soul I had in 
me was killed ; the freshness of my mind was gone, — Swin- 
burne, among others, had helped me to live mentally, if not 
physically, through such a phase of vice as had poisoned my 
thoughts for ever. I understand there is some vague law in 
existence about placing an interdiction on certain books con- 
sidered injurious to public morals, — if there is such a rule, it 
has been curiously lax concerning the author of ' Anactoria' — 
who, by virtue of being a poet, passes unquestioned into many 
a home, carrying pollution into minds that were once cleanly 
and simple. As for me, after I had studied his verse to my 
heart's content, nothing remained sacred. — I judged men as 
beasts and women as little better, — I had no belief in honour, 
virtue or truth, — and I was absolutely indifferent to all things 
save one, and that was my resolve to have my own wa}' as far 


as love was concerned. I might be forced to marry without 
love for purely money-considerations, — but all the same, love 
I would have, or what I called love; — not an ' ideal' passion by 
any means, but precisely what Mr Swinburne and a few of the 
most-praised novelists of the day had taught me to consider 
as love. I began to wonder when and how I should meet my 
lover, — such thoughts as I had at this time indeed would have 
made moralists stare and uplift their hands in horror, — but to 
the exterior world I was the very pink and pattern of maidenly 
decorum, reserve and pride. Men desired, but feared me ; 
for I never gave them any encouragement, seeing as yet none 
among them whom I deemed worthy of such love as I could 
give. The majority resembled carefully trained baboons, — 
respectably clothed and artistically shaven, — but nevertheless 
all with the spasmodic grin, the leering eye and the uncouth 
gestures of the hairy woodland monster. When I was just 
eighteen I ' came out' in earnest, — that is, I was presented at 
Court with all the foolish and farcical pomp practised on such 
occasions. I was told before going that it was a great and 
necessary thing to be ' presented,' — that it was a guarantee of 
position and above all of reputation, — the Queen received none 
whose conduct was not rigidly correct and virtuous. What 
humbug it all was ! — I laughed then, and I can smile now to 
think of it, — why, the very woman who presented me had two 
illegitimate sons, unknown to her lawful husband, and she 
was not the only playful sinner in the Court comedy ! Some 
women were there that day whom since even / would not 
receive — so openly infamous are their lives and characters, 
yet they make their demure curtseys before the Throne at 
stated times and assume to be the very patterns of virtue and 
austerity. Now and then, it chances in the case of an exceed- 
ingly beautiful woman of whom all the others are jealous, that 
for her little slips she is selected as an ' example' and excluded 
from Court, while her plainer sisters, though sinning seventy 
times seven against all the laws of decency and morality, are 
still received, — but otherwise, there is very little real care 


exercised as to the character and prestige of the women whom 
the Queen receives. If any one of them is refused, it is 
certain she adds to her social enormities the greater crime of 
being beautiful, otherwise there would be no one to whisper 
away her reputation. I was what is ( ailed a ' success' on 
my presentation day. That is, I was stared at, and openly 
flattered by certain members of my sex who were too old and 
ugly to be jealous, and treated with insolent contempt by 
those who were young enough to be my rivals. There was 
a great crush to get into the Throne Room ; and some of 
the ladies used rather strong language. One duchess, just in 
front of me, said to her companion — ' Do as I do, — kick 
out ! Bruise their shins for them — as hard as you can, — we 
shall get on faster then ! ' This choice remark was accom- 
panied by the grin of a fishwife and the stare of a drab. 
Yet it was a ' great' lady who spoke, — not a Transatlantic 
importation, but a woman of distinguished lineage and con- 
nection. Her observation, however, was only one out of 
many similar speeches which I heard on all sides of me during 
the 'distinguished' melee, — a thoroughly ill-mannered 'crush,' 
which struck me as supremely vulgar and totally unfitting 
the dignity of our Sovereign's court. When I curtsied before 
the Throne at last, and saw the majesty of the Empire repre- 
sented by a kindly faced old lady, looking very tired and 
bored, whose hand was as cold as ice when I kissed it, I was 
conscious of an intense feeling of pity for her in her high 
estate. Who would be a Monarch to be doomed to the per- 
petual receiving of a company of fools ! I got through my 
duties quickly, and returned home more or less wearied out 
and disgusted with the whole ceremony, — and next day I 
found that my ' debut' had given me the position of a ' leading 
beauty' ; or in other words that I was now formally put up 
for sale. That is really what is meant by being * presented' 
and ' coming out,' — these are the fancy terms of one's parental 
auctioneer. My life was now passed in dressing, having my 
photograph taken, giving ' sittings' to aspiring fashionable 



painters, and being * inspected' by men with a view to matri- 
mony. It was distinctly understood in society that I was not 
to be sold under a certain figure per annum, — and the price 
was too high for most would-be purchasers. How sick I grew 
of my constant exhibition in the marriage-market ! What con- 
tempt and hatred was fostered in me for the mean and pitiable 
hypocrisies of my set ! I was not long in discovering that 
money was the chief motive power of all social success, — that 
the proudest and highest personages in the world could be 
easily gathered together under the roof of any vulgar plebeian 
who happened to have enough cash to feed and entertain 
them. As an example of this, I remember a woman, ugly, 
passee and squint-eyed, who during her father's life was only 
allowed about half-a-crown a week as pocket-money up to her 
fortieth year, — and who, when that father died, leaving her in 
possession of half his fortune (the other half going to illegiti- 
mate children of whom she had never heard, he having always 
posed as a pattern of immaculate virtue), suddenly blossomed 
out as a ' leader' of fashion, and succeeded, through cautious 
scheming and ungrudging toadyism, in assembling some of 
the highest people in the land under her roof. Ugly and 
passee though she was, and verging towards fifty, with neither 
grace, wit, nor intelligence, through the power of her cash 
alone she invited Royal dukes and ' titles' generally to her 
dinners and dances, — and it is to their shame that they 
actually accepted her invitations. Such voluntary degrada- 
tions on the part of really well-connected people I have never 
been able to understand, — it is not as if they were actually in 
want of food or amusement, for they have a surfeit of both 
every season, — and it seems to me that they ought to show a 
better example than to flock in crowds to the entertainments 
of a mere uninteresting and ugly nobody just because she 
happens to have money. I never entered her house myself, 
though she had the audacity to invite me, — I learned, more- 
over, that she had promised a friend of mine a hundred 
guineas if she could persuade me to make one appearance 



in her rooms. For my renown as a 'beauty,' combined with 
my pride and exclusiveness, would have given her parties a 
prestige greater than even Royalty could bestow, — she knew 
that and /knew that; and knowing it, never condescended 
to so much as notice her by a bow. But though I took a 
certain satisfaction in thus revenging myself on the atrocious 
vulgarity oi parvenus zxi^ social interlopers, I grew intensely 
weary of the monotony and emptiness of what fashionable 
folks call 'amusement,' and presently falling ill of a nervous 
fever, I was sent down to the seaside for a few weeks' change 
of air with a young cousin of mine, a girl I rather liked 
because she was so different to myself. Her name was Eva 
Maitland — she was but sixteen and extremely delicate — poor 
little soul ! she died two months before my marriage. She 
and I, and a maid to attend us, went down to Cromer, — 
and one day, sitting on the cliffs together, she asked me 
timidly if I knew an author named Mavis Clare ? I told her 
no, — whereupon she handed me a book called ' The Wings of 

" Do read it !" she said earnestly. '' It will make you feel 
so happy ! ' ' 

I laughed. The idea of a modern author writing anything 
to make one feel happy, seemed to me quite ludicrous, the 
aim of most of them being to awaken a disgust of life, and a 
hatred of one's fellow-creatures. However, to please Eva, I 
read ' The Wings of Psyche,' — and if it did not make me actu- 
ally happy, it moved me to a great wonder and deep reverence 
for the woman-writer of such a book. I found out all about 
her, — that she was young, pretty, of a noble character and un- 
blemished reputation, and that her only enemies were the 
press-critics. This last point was so much in her favour with 
me that I at once bought everything she had ever written, and 
her works became, as it were, my haven of rest. Her theories 
of life are strange, poetic, ideal and beautiful, — though I have 
not been able to accept them or work them out in my own 
case. I have alwavs felt soothed and comforted for a while in 


the very act of wishing they were true. And the woman is 
like her books, — strange, poetic, ideal and beautiful, — how 
odd it is to think that she is within ten minutes' walk of me 
now ! — I could send for her if I liked, and tell her all,— but 
she would prevent me carrying out my resolve. She would 
cling to me woman-like and kiss me, and hold my hands and 
say, * No, Sibyl, no ! You are not yourself, — you must come 
to me and rest!' An odd fancy has seized me, ... I will 
open my window and call her very gently, — she might be in 
the garden coming here to see me, — and if she hears and 
answers, who knows ! — why, perhaps my ideas may change, 
and fate itself may take a different course ! 

Well, I have called her. I have sent her name ' Mavis !' softly 
out on the sunshine and still air three times, and only a little 
brown namesake of hers, a thrush, swinging on a branch of fir, 
answered me with his low autumnal piping. Mavis ! She will 
not come, — to-day God will not make her His me.-senger. She 
cannot guess — she does not know this tragedy of my heart, 
greater and more poignant than all the tragedies of fiction. 
If she did know me as I am, I wonder what she Avould think 
of me ! 

Let me go back to the time when love came to me, — love, 
ardent, passionate, and eternal ! Ah, what wild joy thrilled 
through me ! what mad ecstasy fired my blood !— what delir- 
ious dreams possessed my brain ! I saw Lucio, — and it seemed 
as if the splendid eyes of some great angel had fla-hed a glory 
in my soul ! With him came his friend, the foil to his beauty, 
— the arrogant, self-satisfied fool of a millionaire, Geoffrey 
Tempest, — he who bought me, and who by virtue of his pur- 
chase, is entitled by law to call himself my husband ..." 

Here I paused in my reading and looked up. The dead 
woman's e} es aj^peared now to regard me as steadily as herself 
in the opposite mirror, — the head was a little more dropped 


forward on the breast, and the whole face very nearly re- 
sembled that of the late Countess of Elton when the last 
shock of paralysis had rendered her hideous disfigurement 

** To think that I loved that T' I said aloud, pointing at the 
corpse's ghastly reflection. " Fool that I was indeed ! — as 
great a fool as all men are who barter their lives for the pos- 
session of a woman's mere body ! Why, if there were any life 
after death — if such a creature had a soul that at all resembled 
this poisoned clay, the very devils might turn away aghast 
from such a loathly comrade !" 

The candles flickered, and the dead face seemed to smile, — 
a clock chimed in the adjoining room, but I did not count the 
hour, — I merely arranged the manuscript pages I held more 
methodically, and read on with renewed attention. 


*' From the moment I saw Lucio Rimanez," went on Sibyl's 
'dying speech,' " I abandoned myself to love and the desire 
of love. I had heard of him before from my father, who had 
(as I learned to my shame) been indebted to him for monetary 
assistance. On the very night we met, my father told me 
quite plainly that now was my chance to get 'settled' in life. 
* Marry Rimanez or Tempest, whichever you can most easily 
catch,' he said. 'The prince is fabulously wealthy — but he 
keeps up a mystery about himself and no one knows where he 
actually comes from, — besides which, he dislikes women; — 
now Tempest has five millions and seems an easy-going fool, 
— I should say you had better go for Tempest.' I made no 
answer and gave no promise either way. I soon found out, 
however, that Lucio did not intend to marry, — and I con- 
cluded that he preferred to be the lover of many women, in- 
stead of the husband of one. I did not love him any the 
aa . 34* 


less for this, — I only resolved that I would at least be one of 
those who were happy enough to share his passion. I married 
the man Tempest, feeling that, like many women I knew, I 
should, when safely wedded, have greater liberty of action, — I 
was aware that most modern men prefer an amour with a 
married woman to any other kind of liaison, — and I thought 
Lucio would have readily yielded to the plan I had pre-con- 
ceived. But I was mistaken, — and out of this mistake comes 
all my perplexity, pain and bewilderment. I cannot under- 
stand why my love, — beloved beyond all word and thought, — 
should scorn me and repulse me with such bitter loathing ! 
It is such a common thing now-a-days for a married woman 
to have her own lover apart from her husband de convenance ! 
The writers of books advise it, — I have seen the custom not 
only excused but advocated, over and over again, in long and 
scientific articles that are openly published in leading maga- 
zines. Why then should I be blamed or my desires considered 
criminal ? As long as no public scandal is made, what harm 
is done ? I cannot see it, — it is not as if there were a God to 
care,— the scientists say there is no God. 

I was very startled just now. I thought I heard Lucie's 
voice calling me. I have walked through the rooms looking 
everywhere, and I opened my door to listen, but there is no 
one. I am alone. I have told the servant not to disturb me 
till I ring ; . . . I shall never ring ! Now I come to think 
of it, it is singular that I have never known who Lucio really 
is. A prince, he says — and that I can well believe, — though 
truly princes now-a-d lys are so plebeian and common in looks 
and bearing that he seems too great to belong to so shabby a 
fraternity. From what kingdom does he come? — to what 
nation does he belong? These are questions which he never 
answers save equivocally. 

I here, and look at myself in the mirror. How 
beautiful I am ! I note with admiration the deep and dewy 


lustre of my eyes, and their dark silky fringes, — I see the 
delicate colouring of my cheeks and lips, — the dear rounded 
chin, with its pretty dimple, — the pure lines of my slim throat 
and snowy neck, — the glistening wealth of my long hair. All 
this was given to me for the attraction and luring of men, but 
my love, whom I love with all this living, breathing, exquisite 
being of mine, can see no beauty in me, and rejects me with 
such scorn as pierces my very soul. I have knelt to him, — I 
have prayed to him, — I have worshipped him, — in vain ! 
Hence it comes that I must die. Only one thing he said that 
had the sound of hope, though the utterance was fierce, and 
his looks were cruel, — 'Patience!' he whispered — 'we shall 
meet ere long !' What did he mean? — what possible meeting 
can there be now, when death must close the gate of life, and 
even love would come too late ! 

I have unlocked my jewel-case and taken from it the deadly 
thing secreted there, — a poison that was entrusted to me by 
one of the physicians who lately attended my mother. ' Keep 
this under lock and key,' he said, ' and be sure that it is used 
only for external purposes. There is sufficient in this flask to 
kill ten men if swallowed by mistake.' I look at it wonder- 
ingly. It is colourless, — and there is not enough to fill a 
teaspoon, ... yet ... it will bring down upon me an 
eternal darkness, and close up for ever the marvellous scenes 
of the universe ! So little !— to do so much ! I have fastened 
Lucio's wedding-gift round my waist,— the beautiful snake of 
jewels that clings to me as though it were charged with an 
embrace from him,— ah ! would I could cheat myself into so 
pleasing a fancy ! ... I am trembling, but not with cold or 
fear, — it is simply an excitation of the nerves,— an instinctive 
recoil of flesh and blood at the near prospect of death . . . 
How brilliantly the sun shines through my window ! — its 
callous golden stare has watched so many tortured creatures die 
without so much as a cloud to dim its radiance by way of the 
suggestion of pity ! If there were a God, I fancy He would 


be like the siin, — glorious, changeless, unapproachable, beauti- 
ful, but pitiless ! 

Out of all the various types of human beings I think I hate 
the class called poets most. I used to love them and believe 
in them ; but I know them now to be mere weavers of lies, — 
builders of cloud castles in which no throbbing life can breathe, 
no weary heart find rest. Love is their chief motive, — they 
either idealize or degrade it,— and of the love we women long 
for most they have no conception. They can only sing of 
brute passion or ethical impossibilities, — of the mutual great 
sympathy, the ungrudging patient tenderness that should make 
love lovely, they have no sweet things to say. Between their 
strained aestheticism and unbridled sensualism, my spirit has 
been stretched on the rack and broken on the wheel, ... I 
should think many a wretched woman wrecked among love's 
disillusions must curse them as I do ! 

I am ready now, I think. There is nothing more to say. 
I offer no excuses for myself. I am as I was made, — a proud 
and rebellious woman, self-willed and sensual, seeing no fault 
in free love, and no crime in conjugal infidelity, — and if I am 
vicious, I can honestly declare that my vices have been en- 
couraged and fostered in me by most of the literary teachers 
of my time. I married, as most women of my set marry, 
merely for money, — I loved, as most women of my set love, 
for mere bodily attraction, — I die, as most women of my set 
will die, either naturally or self-slain, in utter atheism, rejoicing 
that there is no God and no Hereafter. 

I had the poison in my hand a moment ago, ready to take, 
when I suddenly felt someone approaching me stealthily from 
behind, and glancing up quickly at the mirror I saw . . . my 
mother ! Her face, hideous and ghastly as it had been in her 
last illness, was reflected in the glass, peering over my shoulder ! 
I sprang up and confronted her, she was gone ! And now 


I am shivering with cold, and I feel a chill dampness on my 
forehead, — mechanically I have soaked a handkerchief with 
perfume from one of the silver bottles on the dressing table, and 
have passed it across my temples to help me recover from this 
sick swooning sensation. To recover ! — how foolish of me, 
seeing I am about to die. I do not believe in ghosts, — yet I 
could have sworn my mother was actually present just now,— of 
course it was an optical delusion of my own feverish brain. The 
strong scent on my handkerchief reminds me of Paris — I can 
see the shop where I bought this particular perfume, and the 
well-dressed doll of a man who served me, with his little waxed 
moustache and his indefinable French manner of conveying a 
speechless personal compliment while making out a bill. . . . 
Laughing at this recollection I see my face radiate in the 
glass, — my eyes flash into vivid kistre, and the dimples near 
my lips come and go, giving my expression an enchanting 
sweetness. Yet in a few hours this loveliness will be de- 
stroyed, — and in a few days, the worms will twine where 
the smile is now ! 

An idea has come upon me that perhaps I ought to say a 
prayer. It would be hypocritical, — but conventional. To 
die fashionably, one ought to concede a few words to the 
church. And yet ... to kneel down with clasped hands 
and tell an inactive, unsympathetic, selfish, paid community 
called a church, that I am going to kill myself for the sake of 
love and love's despair, and that therefore I humbly implore 
its forgiveness for the act, seems absurd, — as absurd as to tell 
the same thing to a non-existent Deity. I suppose the scien- 
tists do not think what a strange predicament their advanced 
theories put the human mind in at the hour of death. They 
forget that on the brink of the grave, thoughts come that will 
not be gainsaid, and that cannot be appeased by a learned 
thesis. . . . However, I will not pray, — it would seem to 
myself cowardly that I, who have never said my prayers 
since I was a child, should run over them now in a foolish 


babbling attempt to satisfy the powers invisible, — I could 
not, out of sheer association, appeal to Mr Swinburne's 
* crucified carrion' ! Besides I do not believe in the powers 
invisible at all, — I feel that once outside this life, 'the rest,' 
as Hamlet said, ' is silence.' 

I have been staring dreamily and in a sort of stupefaction 
at the little poison-flask in my hand. // is quite empty )iow. I 
have swallowed every drop of the liquid it contained, — I took 
it quickly and determinately as one takes nauseous medicine 
without allowing myself another moment of time for thought 
or hesitation. It tasted acrid and burning on my tongue, — 
but at present I am not conscious of any strange or painful 
result. I shall watch my face in the mirror and trace the 
oncoming of death, — this will be at any rate a new sensation 
not without interest. 

My mother is here, — here with me in this room I She is 
moving about restlessly, making wild gestures with her hands 
and trying to speak. She looks as she did when she was 
dying, — only more alive, more sentient. I have followed her 
up and down, but am unable to touch her, — she eludes my 
grasp. I have called her ' Mother ! Mother ! ' but no sound 
issues from her white lips. Her face is so appalling that I 
was seized with a convulsion of terror a moment ago and fell 
on my knees before her imploring her to leave me, — and then 
she paused in her gliding to and fro and — smiled ! What a 
hideous smile it was ? I think I lost consciousness, ... for 
I found myself lying on the ground. A sharp and terrible 
pain running through me made me spring to my feet, . . . 
and I bit my lips till they bled, lest I should scream aloud 
with the agony I suffered and so alarm the house. When the 
paroxysm passed I saw my mother standing quite near to me, 
dumbly watching me with a strange expression of wonder and 
remorse. I tottered past her and back to this chair where I 
now sit, ... I am calmer now, and I am able to realize that 


she is only the phantom of my own brain — that \ fancy she is 
here, while knowing she is dead. 

Torture indescribable has made of me a writhing, moaning, 
helpless creature for the past few minutes. Truly that drug 
was deadly, — the pain is horrible . . . horrible ! ... it has 
left me quivering in every limb and palpitating in every 
nerve. Looking at my face in the glass I see that it has al- 
ready altered. It is drawn and livid, — all the fresh rose-tint 
of my lips has gone, — my eyes protrude unnaturally, . . . 
there are dull blue marks at the corners of my mouth and in 
the hollows of my temples, and I observe a curious quick pul- 
sation in the veins of my throat. Be my torment what it will, 
now there is no remedy, — and I am resolved to sit here and 
study my own features to the end. * The reaper whose name 
is Death' must surely be near, ready to gather my long hair 
in his skeleton hand like a sheaf of ripe corn, . . . my poor 
beautiful hair ! — how I have loved its glistening ripples, and 
brushed it, and twined it round my fingers, . . . and how 
soon it will lie like a dank weed in the mould ! 

A devouring fire is in my brain and body, — I am burning 
with heat, and parched with thirst, — I have drunk deep 
draughts of cold water, but this has not relieved me. The sun 
glares in upon me like an open furnace, — I tried to rise and 
close the blind against it, but find I have no force to stand 
upright. The strong radiance blinds me : — the silver toilet 
boxes on my table glitter like so many points of swords. It 
is by a powerful effort of will that I am able to continue 
writing, — my head is swimming round, and there is a choking 
sensation in my throat. 

A moment since I thought I was dying. Torn asunder as it 
were by the most torturing pangs, I could have screamed for 
help, — and would have done so, had voice been left me. But 
I cannot speak above a whisper, — I mutter my own name to 


myself, ' Sibyl ! Sibyl !' and can scarcely hear it. My mother 
stands beside me, — apparently waiting; — a little while ago 
1 thought I heard her say ' Come, Sibyl ! Come to your chosen 
lover!' Now I am conscious of a great silence everywhere, 
... a numbness has fallen upon me, and a delicious respite 
from ]xiin, — but I see my face in the glass and know it is the 
face of the dead. It will soon be all over, — a few more un- 
easy breathings, — and I shall be at rest. I am glad, for the 
world and I were never good friends ; — I am sure that if we 
could know, before we were born, what life really is, we should 
never take the trouble to live. 

A horrible fear has suddenly beset me. What if death were 
not what the scientists deem it, — suppose it were another form 
of life? Can it be that I am losing rea-on and courage to- 
gether? ... or what is this terrible misgiving that is taking 
possession of me ? . . .1 begin to falter ... a strange sense 
of horror is creeping over me ... I have no more physical 
pain, but something worse than pain oppresses me ... a feel- 
ing that I cannot define. I am dying . . . dying ! — I repeat 
this to myself for comfort . . . in a little while I shall be deaf 
and blind and unconscious . . . why then is the silence around 
me now broken through by sound ? I listen, and I hear dis- 
tinctly the clamour of wild voices mingled with a sullen jar 
and roll as of distant thunder ! . . . My mother stands closer 
to me, . . . she is stretching out her hand to touch mine ! 

O God 1 . . . Let me write — write — while I can ! Let 
me yet hold fast the thread which fastens me to earth, — give 
me time — time before I drift out, lost in yonder blackness and 
flame ! Let me write for others the awful Truth, as I see it, — 
there is No death ! None — none ! — / cannot die ! I am pass- 
ing out of my body, — I am being wrenched away from it inch 
by inch in inex})licable mystic torture, — but I am not dying, 
— I am being carried forward into a new life, vague and vast 
. . . I see a new world full of dark forms, half shaped yet 


shapeless, — they float towards me beckoning me on ! I am 
actively conscious — I hear, I think, 1 know ! Death is a mere 
human dream, — a comforting fancy ; it has no real existence, 
— there is nothing in the Universe but Life. O hideous 
misery ! — / cannot die ! In my mortal body I can scarcely 
breathe, — the pen I try to hold writes of itself rather than 
through my shaking hand, — but these pangs are the throes of 
birth — not death ! . . . I hold back, — with all the force of my 
soul I strive not to plunge into that black abyss I see before 
me — but — my mother drags ?ne with her, — I cannot shake her 
off. I hear her voice now ; — she speaks distinctly, and laughs 
as though she wept, . . . ' Come, Sibyl ! Soul of the child 
I bore, come and meet your lover ! Come and see upon 
Whom you fixed your faith ! Soul of the woman I trained, 
return to that from whence you came !' Still I hold back, — 
nude and trembling I stare into a dark void, — and now there 
are wings about me, — wings of fiery scarlet ! — they fill the 
space, — they enfold me, — they propel me, — they rush past 
and whirl around me stinging me as with flying arrows and 
showers of hail ! 

Let me write on, — write on with this dead fleshly hand, . . . 
one moment more time, dread God ! . . . one moment more 
to write the Truth, — the terrible truth of death whose darkest 
secret. Life, is unknown to men. I live ! — a new, strong, 
impetuous vitality possesses me, though my mortal body is 
nearly dead. Faint gasps and weak shudderings affect it still, 
— and I, outside it and no longer of it, propel its perishing 
hand to write these final words — / live ! To my despair and 
terror, — to my remorse and agony, I live I — oh, the unspeak- 
able misery of this new life ! And worst of all, God whom 
I doubted, God whom I was taught to deny, — this wronged, 
blasphemed and outraged God exists ! And I could have 
found Him had I chosen, — this knowledge is forced upon me 
as I am torn from hence, — it is shouted at me by a thousand 
wailing voices ! . . . too late ! — too late ! — the scarlet wings 
s 35 


beat me downward, — these strange half-shapeless forms close 
round and drive me onward ... to a further darkness, . . . 
amid wind and fire ! 

Serve me, dead hand, once more ere I depart, . . . my 
tortured spirit must seize and compel you to write down this 
thing unnamable, that earthly eyes may read, and earthly 
souls take timely warning ! . . . I know at last WHOM I have 
loved ! — whom I have chosen, whom I have worshipped ! . . . 
O God, have mercy ! . . . I know WHO claims my worship 
now and drags me into yonder rolling world of flame ! . . . 
his name is ' ' 

Here the manuscript ended, — incomplete and broken off 
abruptly, — and there was a blot on the last sentence as though 
the pen had been violently wrenched from the dying fingers 
and hastily flung down. 

The clock in the west room again chimed the hour. I rose 
stiffly from my chair, trembling, — my self-possession was giv- 
ing way, and I began to feel at last unnerved. I looked 
askance at my dead wife, — she, who with a superhuman dying 
effort had declared herself to be yet alive, — who, in some 
imaginable strange way had seemingly written after death, in 
a frantic desire to make some appalling declaration which 
nevertheless remained undeclared. The rigid figure of the 
corpse had now real terrors for me, — I dared not touch it, — I 
scarcely dared to look at it, . . . in some dim inscrutable 
fashion I felt as if * scarlet wings' environed it, beating me 
down, yet pressing me on, — me too, in my turn. With the 
manuscript gathered close in my hand, I bent nervously for- 
ward to blow out the wax lights on the toilet table, ... I 
saw on the floor the handkerchief odorous with the French 
perfume the dead woman had written of, — I picked it up and 
placed it near her where she sat grinning hideously at her 
own mirrored ghastliness. The flash of the jewelled serpent 
round her waist caught my eyes anew as I did this, and I 


stared for a moment at its green glitter, dumbly fascinated, — 
then, moving stealthily with the cold sweat pouring down my 
back and every pulse in me rendered feeble by sheer horror, 
I turned to leave the room. As I reached the portiere and 
lifted it, some instinct made me look back at the dread pic- 
ture of the leading ' society' beauty sitting stark and livid- 
pale before her own stark and livid-pale image in the glass, — 
what a ' fashion-plate' she would make now, I thought, for a 
frivolous and hypocritical * ladies' paper ! ' 

''You say you are not dead, Sibyl!" I muttered aloud — 
" Not dead, but living. Then, if you are alive, where are 
you, Sibyl? where are you?" 

The heavy silence seemed fraught with fearful meaning, — 
the light of the electric lamps on the corpse and on the shim- 
mering silk garment wrapped round it appeared unearthly, — 
and the perfume in the room had a grave-like earthy smell. 
A panic seized me, and dragging fiantically at the portiere till 
all its velvet folds were drawn thickly together, I made haste 
to shut out from my sight the horrible figure of the woman 
whose bodily fairness I had loved in the customary way of 
sensual men, — and left her without so much as a pardoning or 
pitying kiss of farewell on the cold brow. For, . . . after 
all I had Myself to think of, . . . and She was dead ! 


I PASS overall the details of polite 'shock,' affected sorrow, 
and feigned sympathy of society at my wife's sudden death. 
No one was really grieved about it, — men raised their eye- 
brows, shrugged their shoulders, lit extra cigarettes and dis- 
missed the subject as too unpleasant and depressing to dwell 
upon, — women were glad of the removal of a too beautiful 
and too much admired rival, and the majority of fashionable 
folk delighted in having something ' thrilling' to talk about 


in the tragic circumstances of her end. As a rule, people are 
seldom or never unselfish enough to be honestly sorry for the 
evanishment of some leading or brilliant figure from their 
midst, — the vacancy leaves room for the pushing in of smaller 
fry. Be sure that if you are unhappily celebrated for either 
beauty, wit, intellect, or all three together, half society wishes 
you dead already, and the other half tries to make you as 
wretched as possible while you are alive. To be missed at all 
when you die, some one must love you very deeply and un- 
selfishly ; and deep unselfish love is rarer to find among 
mortals than a pearl in a dust-bin. 

Thanks to my abundance of cash, everything concerning 
Sibyl's suicide was admirably managed. In consideration of 
her social position as an Earl's daughter, two doctors certified 
(on my paying them very handsome fees) that hers was a 
'death by misadventure,' — namely, through taking an acci- 
dental overdose of a powerful sleeping draught. It was the 
best report to make, — and the most respectable. It gave the 
penny press an opportunity of moralizing on the dangers that 
lurked in sleeping draughts generally, — and Tom, Dick, and 
Harry all wrote letters to their favourite periodicals (signing 
their names in full) giving their opinions as to the nature of 
sleeping draughts, so that for a week at least the ordinary 
dullness of the newspapers was quite enlivened by ungram- 
matical gratis ' copy.' The conventionalities of law, decency 
and order were throughout scrupulously observed and com- 
plied with, — everybody was paid (which was the chief thing), 
and everybody was, I believe, satisfied with what they man- 
aged to make out of the death-payment. The funeral gave 
joy to the souls of all undertakers, — it was so expensive and 
impressive. The florist's trade gained something of an im- 
petus by the innumerable orders received for wreaths and 
crosses made of the costliest flowers. When the coffin was 
carried to the grave, it could not be seen for the load of blos- 
soms that covered it. And amid all the ' cards' and ' loving 
tokens' and ' farewell dearests' and ' not-lost-but-gone-befores' 


that ticketed the white masses of lilies, gardenias and roses 
which were supposed to symbolize the innocence and sweetness 
of the poisoned corpse they were sent to adorn, there was not 
one honest regret, — not one unfc^igned expression of true sor- 
row. Lord Elton made a sufficiently striking figure of dig- 
nified parental woe, but on the whole I think he was not sorry 
for his daughter's death, since the only opposing obstacle to 
his marriage with Diana Chesney was now removed. I fancy 
Diana herself was sorry, so far as such a frivolous little 
American could be sorry for anything, — perhaps, however, it 
would be more correct to say that she was frightened. Sibyl's 
sudden end startled and troubled her, — but I am not sure that 
it grieved her. There is such a difference between unselfish 
grief, and the mere sense of nervous personal shock ! Miss 
Charlotte Fitzroy took the news of her niece's death with that 
admirable fortitude which frequently characterizes religious 
spinsters of a certain age. She put by her knitting, — said 
* God's will be done !' and sent for her favourite clergyman. 
He came, stayed with her some hours drinking strong tea, — 
and the next morning at church administered to her the com- 
munion. This done. Miss Fitzroy went on the blameless and 
even tenor of her way, wearing the same virtuously distressed 
expression as usual, and showed no further sign of feeling. 
I, as the afflicted millionaire-husband, was no doubt the most 
interesting figure on the scene ; I was, I know, very well got 
up, thanks to my tailor, and to the affectionate care of the 
chief undertaker who handed me my black gloves on the day 
of the funeral with servile solicitude, but in my heart I felt 
myself to be a far better actor than Henry Irving, and if only 
for my admirable mimicry of heart-break, more fully worthy of 
the acolade. Lucio did not attend the obsequies, — he wrote 
me a brief note of sympathy from town, and hinted that he 
was sure I could understand his reasons for not being present. 
I did understand of course, — and appreciated his respect, as I 
thought, for me and my feelings, — yet strange and incongru- 
ous as it may seem, I never longed so much for his company 



as I did then ! However, — we had a glorious burial of my 
fair and false lady, — prancing horses drew coroneted carriages 
in a long defile down the j)retty Warwickshire lanes to the 
grey old church, picturesque and peaceful, where the clergy- 
man and his assistants in newly-washed surplices, met the 
flower-laden coffin, and with the usual conventional mumblings, 
consigned it to the dust. There were even press-reporters 
present, who not only described the scene as it did not hap- 
pen, but who also sent fancy sketches, to their respective 
journals, of the church as it did 7iot exist. I mention this 
simply to show how thoroughly all ' proper forms' were carried 
out and conceded to. After the ceremony all we * mourners' 
went back to Willowsmere to luncheon, and I well remember 
that Lord Elton told me a new and risque joke over a glass of 
port before the meal was finished. The undertakers had a 
sort of festive banquet in the servants' hall, — and taking every- 
thing into due consideration, my wife's death gave a great 
deal of pleasure to many people, and put useful money into 
several ready pockets. She had left no blank in society that 
could not be easily filled up, — she was merely one butterfly 
out of thousands, more daintily colored perhaps and more 
restless in flight, — but never judged as more than up to the 
butterfly standard. I said no one gave her an honest 
regret, but I was wrong. Mavis Clare was genuinely, almost 
passionately grieved. She sent no flowers for the coffin, but 
she came to the funeral by herself, and stood a little apart 
waiting silently till the grave was covered in, — and then, just 
as the ' fashionable' train of mourners were leaving the 
churchyard, she advanced and placed a white cross of her 
own garden-lilies across the newly-turned brown mould. I 
noticed her action, and determined that before I left Willows- 
mere for the East with Lucio (for my journey had only been 
postponed a week or two on account of Sibyl's death) she 
should know all. 

The day came when I carried out this resolve. It was a 
rainy and chill afternoon, and I found Mavis in her study, 


sitting beside a bright log fire with her small terrier in her lap 
and her faithful St Bernard stretched at her feet. She was 
absorbed in a book, — and over her watched the marble Pallas, 
inflexible and austere. As I entered she rose, and putting 
down the volume and her pet dog together, she advanced to 
meet me with an intense sympathy in her clear eyes, and a 
wordless pity in the tremulous lines of her sweet moulh. It 
was charming to see how sorry she felt for me, — and it was 
odd that I could not feel sorry for myself. After a few words 
of embarrassed greeting I sat down and watched her silently, 
while she arranged the logs in the fire to make them burn 
brighter, and for the moment avoided my gaze. 

"I suppose you know" — I began with harsh abruptness — 
"that the sleeping-draught story is a polite fiction? You 
know that my wife poisoned herself intentionally?" 

Mavis looked at me with a troubled and compassionate 

" I feared it was so — " . . . she began nervously. 

*'0h there is nothing either to fear or to hope," I said 
with some violence. ^'- She did it. And can you guess why 
she did it ? Because she was mad with her own wickedness 
and sensuality, — because she loved with a guilty love, my 
friend Lucio Rimanez." 

Mavis gave a little cry as of pain, and sat down white and 

*' You can read quickly, I am sure," I went on. '* Part of 
the profession of literature is the ability to skim books and 
manuscripts rapidly, and grasp the whole gist of them in a 
few minutes, — read this — " and I handed her the rolled-up 
pages of Sibyl's dying declaration. " Let me stay here, while 
you learn from that what sort of a woman she was, and judge 
whether, despite her beauty, she is worth a regret." 

''Pardon me," said Mavis gently — ''I would rather not 
read what was not meant for my eyes." 

" But it /> meant for your eyes," I retorted impatiently. 
" It is meant for everybody's eyes apparently,— it is addressed 


to nobody in particular. There is a mention of you in it. I 
beg — nay 1 command you to read it ! — I want your opinion 
on it, — your advice ; you may possibly suggest, after perusal, 
the proper sort of epitaph I ought to inscribe on the monu- 
ment I am going to build to her sacred and dear memory." 

I covered my face with one hand to hide the bitter smile 
which I knew betrayed my thoughts, and pushed the manu- 
script towards her. Very reluctantly she took it, — and slowly 
unrolling it, began to read. For several minutes there was a 
silence, broken only by the crackling of the logs on the fire, 
and the regular breathing of the dogs who now both lay 
stretched comfortably in front of the wood blaze. 1 looked 
covertly at the woman wdiose fame I had envied, — at the 
girlish figure, the coronal of soft hair, — the delicate, drooping 
sensitive face, — the small white classic hand that held the 
written sheets of paper so firmly yet so tenderly, — the very 
hand of the Greek marble Psyche ; — and I thought what 
short-sighted asses some literary men are who suppose they 
can succeed in shutting out women like Mavis Clare from 
winning everything that fame or fortune can offer. Such a 
head as hers, albeit covered with locks fair and caressable, 
was not meant, in its fine shape and compactness, for submis- 
sion to inferior intelligences, whether masculine or feminine, — 
that determined little chin, which the firelight delicately out- 
lined, was a visible declaration of the strength of will and the 
indomitably high ambition of its owaier, — and yet, . . . the 
soft eyes, — the tender mouth, — did not these suggest the 
sweetest love, the purest passion that ever found place in a 
woman's heart? I lost myself in dreamy musing, — I thought 
of many things that had little to do with either my own past 
or present. I realized that now and then at rare intervals 
God makes a \voman of genius with a thinker's brain and an 
angel's soul, and that such an one is bound to be a destiny 
to all mortals less divinely endowed, and a glory to the world 
in which she dwells. So considering, I studied Mavis Clare's 
face and form, — I saw her eyes fill \vith tears as she read on; 


— why should she weep, I wondered, over that ' last docu- 
ment' which had left me unmoved and callous ? I was 
startled almost as if from sleep when her voice, thrilling 
with pain, disturbed the stillness, — she sprang up, gazing at 
me as if she saw some horrible vision. 

''Oh, are you so blind," she cried, ''as not to see what 
this means ? Can you not understand ? Do you not know 
your worst enemy ?' ' 

" My worst enemy?" I echoed amazed. "You surprise 
me, Mavis, — what have I, or my enemies or friends to do 
with my wife's last confession? She raved, — between poison 
and jassion, she could not tell, as you see by her final words, 
whether she was dead or alive, — and her writing at all under 
such stress of circumstances was a phenomenal effort, — but it 
has nothing to do with me personally." 

"For God's sake do not be so hard-hearted," said Mavis 
passionately. "To me these last words of Sibyl's, — poor, 
tortured, miserable girl ! — are beyond all expression horrible 
and appalling. Do \ ou mean to tell me you have no belief in 
a future life?" 

" None." I answered with conviction. 

"Then this is nothing to you? — this solemn assurance of 
hers that she is not dead, but living again, — living too, in 
indesc:ribable misery ! — you do not believe it?" 

"Does anyone believe the ravings of the dying!" I an- 
swered. "She was, as I have said, suffering the torments 
of poison and passion, — and in those torments wrote as one 
tormented. ..." 

"Is it impossible to convince you of the truth?" asked 
Mavis solemnly. " Are you so diseased in your spiritual per- 
ceptions as not to knoiv, beyond a doubt, that this world is 
but the shadow of the Other Worlds awaiting us ? I assure 
you, as I live, you will have that terrible knowledge forced 
upon you some day ! I am aware of your theories, — your 
wife had the same beliefs or rather non-beliefs as yourself, — 
yet she has been convinced at last. I shall not attempt to 


argue with you. If this last letter of the unhappy girl you 
wedded cannot ojjen your eyes to the eternal facts you choose 
to ignore, nothing will ever help you. You are in the power 
of your enemy !" 

" Of whom are you speaking, Mavis?" I asked astonished, 
observing that she stood like one suddenly appalled in a 
dream, her eyes fixed musingly on vacancy, and her lips 
trembling apart. 

"Your enemy — your enemy!" she repeated with energy. 
''It seems to me as if his Shadow stood near you now ! 
Listen to this voice from the dead — Sibyl's voice ! — what 
does she say? — ^O God, have mercy ! . . . I know who clawis 
my worship now and drags me into yo?ider rolling world of 
flame . . . his nafne is — ' ' ' 

"Well!" I interrupted eagerly. "She breaks off there; 
his name is " 

" Lucio Rimanez !" said Mavis in a thrilling tone. " I do 
not know from whence he came, — but I take God to witness 
my belief that he is a worker of evil, — a fiend in beautiful 
human shape, — a destroyer and a corrupter ! The curse of 
him fell on Sibyl the moment she met him, — the same curse 
rests on you ! Leave him if you are wise, — take your chance 
of escape while it remains to you, — and never let him see 
your face again !" 

She spoke with a kind of breathless haste as though impelled 
by a force not her own, — I stared at her amazed, and in a 
manner irritated. 

" Such a course of action would be impossible tome. Mavis," 
I said somewhat coldly. "The Prince Rimanez is my best 
friend — no man ever had a better ; — and his loyalty to me has 
been put to a severe test under which most men would have 
failed. I have not told you all." 

And I related in a few words the scene I had witnessed be- 
tween my wife and Lucio in the music-gallery at Willowsmere. 
She listened, — but with an evident effort, — and pushing back 
her clustering hair from her brows, she sighed heavily. 


*'I am sorry, — but it does not alter my conviction," she 
said. *' I look upon your best friend as your worst foe. And 
I feel you do not realize the awful calamity of your wife's 
death in its true aspect. Will you forgive me if I ask you to 
leave me now? — Lady Sibyl's letter has affected me terribly — 
I feel I cannot speak about it any more. ... I wish I had not 
read it. . . ." 

She broke off with a little half-suppressed sob, — I saw she 
was unnerved, and taking the manuscript from her hand I said 
half-ban teringly — 

" You cannot then suggest an epitaph for my wife's monu- 

She turned upon me with a grand gesture of reproach. 

" Yes I can !" she replied in a low indignant voice. " In- 
scribe it as — ' From a pitiless hand to a broken heart !' That 
will suit the dead girl, and you, — the living man !" 

Her rustling gown swept across my feet, — she passed me and 
was gone. Stupefied by her sudden anger and equally sudden 
departure I stood inert, — the St Bernard rose from the hearth- 
rug and glowered at me suspiciously, evidently wishing me to 
take my leave, — Pallas Athene stared, as usual, through me and 
beyond me in a boundless scorn, — all the various objects in 
this quiet study seemed silently to eject me as an undesired 
occupant. I looked round it once longingly as a tired outcast 
may look on a peaceful garden and wish in vain to enter. 

''How like her sex she is after all!" I said half aloud. 
*' She blames me for being pitiless, — and forgets that Sibyl was 
the sinner, — not I ! No matter how guilty a woman may be, 
she generally manages to secure a certain amount of sympathy, 
— a man is always left out in the cold." 

A shuddering sense of loneliness oppressed me as my eyes 
wandered round the restful room. The odour of lilies was in 
the air, exhaled, so I fancied, from the delicate and dainty 
personality of Mavis herself. 

" If I had only known her first, — and loved her !" I mur- 
mured, as I turned away at last and left the house. 


But then I remembered I had hated her before I ever met 
her, — and not only had I hated her, but I had villified and 
misrepresented her work with a scurrilous pen under the shield 
of anonymity, and out of sheer malice, — thus giving her in 
the public sight the greatest proof of her own genius a gifted 
woman can ever win, — man's envy ! 


Two weeks later I stood on the deck of Lucio's yacht 
*The Flame,' — a vessel whose complete magnificence filled 
me as well as all othdr beholders with bewildered wonderment 
and admiration. She was a miracle of speed, her motive 
power being electricity ; and the electric engines with which 
she was fitted were so complex and remarkable as to baffle all 
would-be inquirers into the secret of their mechanism and 
potency. A large crowd of spectators gathe^-ed to see her as 
she lay off Southampton, attracted by the beauty of her shape 
and appearance, — some bolder spirits even came out in tugs 
and row-boats, hoping to be allowed to make a visit of in- 
spection on board, but the sailors, powerfully-built men of a 
foreign and somewhat unpleasing type, soon intimated that 
the company of such inquisitive persons was undesirable and 
unwelcome. With white sails spread and a crimson flag fly- 
ing from her mast, she weighed anchor at sunset on the after- 
noon of the day her owner and I jo ned her, and moving 
through the waters with delicious noiselessness and incredible 
rapidity, soon left far behind her the English shore, looking 
like a white line in the mist, or the pale vision of a land that 
might once have been. I had done a few quixotic things be- 
fore departing from my native country, — for example, I had 
made a free gift of his former home, Willowsmere, to Lord 
Elton, taking a sort of sullen pleasure in thinking that he, the 
spendthrift nobleman, owed the restoration of his property to 
viCj — to me who had never been either a successful linen- 


draper or furniture-man, but simply an author, one of ' those 
sort of people' Avhom my lord and my lady imagine they can 
* patronize' and neglect again at pleasure without danger to 
themselves. The arrogant fools invariably forget what lasting 
vengeance can be taken for an unmerited slight by the owner 
of a brilliant pen ! I was glad too, in a way, to realize that 
the daughter of the American railway-king would be brought 
to the grand old house to air her ' countess-ship,' and look at 
her prettily pert little physiognomy in the very mirror where 
Sibyl had watched herself die. I do not know why this idea 
pleased me, for I bore no grudge against Diana Chcsney, — 
she was vulgar but harmless, and would probably make a 
much more popular chatelaine at Willowsmere Court than my 
wife had ever been. Among other things, I dismissed my 
man Morris, and made him miserable, — with the gift of a 
thousand pounds, to marry and start a business on. He was 
miserable because he could not make up his mind what busi- 
ness to adopt, his anxiety being to choose the calling that 
would ' pay' best, — and also, because, though he ' had his eye' 
upon several young women, he could not tell which among 
them would be likely to be least extravagant, and the most ser- 
viceable as a cook and housekeeper. The love of money and 
the pains of taking care of it, embittered his days as it em- 
bitters the days of most men, and my unexpected munificence 
towards him burdened him with such a weight of trouble as 
robbed him of natural sleep and appetite. I cared nothing 
for his perplexities, however, and gave him no advice, good or 
bad. My other servants I dismissed, each with a considerable 
gift of money, not that I particularly wished to benefit thcin, 
but simply because I desired them to speak well of me. And 
in this world it is very evident that the only way to get a good 
opinion is to pay for it I I gave orders to a famous Italian 
sculptor for Sibyl's monument, English sculptors having no 
conception of sculpture, — it was to be of exquisite design, 
wTought in purest white marble, the chief adornment being 
the centre-figure of an angel ready for flight, with the face of 



Sibyl faithfully copied from her picture. Because, however 
devilish a woman may be in her life-time, one is bound by all 
the laws of social hypocrisy to make an angel of her as soon 
as she is dead ! Just before I left London I heard that my 
old college-friend 'Boffles,' John Carrington, had met with a 
sudden end. Busy at the ' retorting' of his gold, he had been 
choked by the mercurial fumes and had died in hideous tor- 
ment. At one time this news would have deeply affected me, 
but now, I was scarcely sorry. I had heard nothing of him 
since I had come into my fortune, — he had never even written 
to congratulate me. Always full of my own self-importance, 
I judged this as great neglect on his part, and now that he was 
dead I felt no more than any of us feel now-a-days at the loss 
of friends. And that is very little, — we have really no time 
to be sorry, — so many people are always dying ! — and we are 
in such a desperate hurry to rush on to death ourselves ! 
Nothing seemed to touch me that did not closely concern 
my own personal interest, — and I had no affections left, unless 
I may call the vague tenderness I had for Mavis Clare an 
affection. Yet, to be honest, this very emotion was after all 
nothing but a desire to be consoled, pitied and loved by her, 
— to be able to turn upon the world and say, ^' This woman 
whom you have lifted on your shield of honour and crowned 
with laurels, — she loves nic — she is not yours, but mine I' ^ 
Purely interested and purely selfish was the longing, — and it 
deserved no other name than selfishness. 

My feelings for Rimanez too began at this time to undergo 
a curious change. The fascination I had for him, the power 
he exercised over me remained as great as ever, but I found 
myself often absorbed in a close study of him, strangely against 
my own will. Sometimes his every look seemed fraught with 
meaning, — his every gesture suggestive of an almost terrific 
authority. He was always to me the most attractive of beings, 
— nevertheless there was an uneasy sensation of doubt and 
fear growing up in my mind regarding him, — a painful anxiety 
to know more about him than he had ever told me, — and on 


rare occasions I experienced a sudden shock of inexplicable 
repulsion against him which like a tremendous wave threw me 
back with violence upon myself and left me half stunned with 
a dread of I knew not what. Alone with him, as it were, on 
the wide sea, cut off for a time from all other intercourse than 
that which we shared together, these sensations were very 
strong upon me. I began to note many things which I had 
been too blind or too absorbed in my own pursuits to ob erve 
before ; the offensive presence of Amiel, who acted as chief 
steward on board the yacht, filled me now not only with dis- 
like, but nervous apprehension, — the dark and more or less 
rejoulsive visages of the crew haunted me in my dreams ; — and 
one day, leaning over the vessel's edge and gazing blankly 
down into the fathomless water below, I fell to thinking of 
strange sorceries of the East, and stories of magicians who by 
the exercise of unlawful science did so make victims of men 
and delude them that their wills were entirely ijerverted and 
no longer tlieir own. I do not know why this passing thought 
should have suddenly overwhelmed me with deep depression, 
— but when I looked up, to me the sky had grown dark, and 
the face of one of the sailors who was near me polishing the 
brass hand-rail, seemed singularly threatening and sinister. I 
moved to go to the other side of the deck, when a hand was 
gently laid on my shoulder from behind, and turning, I met 
the sad and splendid eyes of Lucio. 

"Are you growing weary of the voyage, Geoffrey?" he 
asked — "weary of those two suggestions of eternity — the in- 
terminable sky, the interminable sea? I am afraid you are ! — 
man easily gets fatigued with his own littleness and powerless- 
ness when he is set afloat on a plank between air and ocean. 
Yet we are travelling as swiftly as electricity will bear us, — 
and, as worked in this vessel, it is carrying us at a far greater 
speed than you perhaps realize or imagine." 

I made no immediate answer, but taking his arm strolled 
slowly up and down. I felt he was looking at me, but I 
avoided meeting his gaze. 


" You have been thinking of your wife?" he queried softly 
and, as I thought, sympathetically. '* I have shunned, — for 
reasons you know of, — all allusion to the tragic end of so 
beautiful a creature. Beauty is, alas ! — so often subject to 
hysteria ! Yet — if you had any faith, you w^ould believe she 
is an angel now." 

I stopped short at this, and looked straight at him. There 
was a fine smile on his delicate mouth. 

*'An angel!" I repeated slowly — "or a devil? Which 
would you say she is ? — you, who sometimes declare that you 
believe in Heaven, — and Hell?" 

He was silent, but the dreamy smile remained still on his 

'' Come, speak !" I said roughly. *' You can be frank with 
me, you know, — angel or devil — which?" 

*'My dear Geoffrey!" he remonstrated gently and with 
gravity — "a woman is always an angel, — both here and 
hereafter ! ' ' 

I laughed bitterly. "If that is part of your faith I am 
sorry for you ! ' ' 

"I have not spoken of my faiih," he rejoined in colder 
accents, lifting his brilliant eyes to the darkening heaven. 
" I am not a Salvationist, that I should bray forth a creed to 
the sound of trump and drum." 

"All the same, you luwe a creed," I persisted — "and I 
fancy it must be a strange one ! If you remember, you 
promised to explain it to me " 

"Are you ready to receive such an explanation?" he asked 
in a somewhat ironical tone. " No, my dear friend ! — permit 
me to say you are not ready — not yet ! My beliefs are too 
positive to be brought even into contact with your contradic- 
tions, — too frightfully real to submit to your doubts for a 
moment. You would at once begin to revert to the puny 
used-up old arguments of Voltaire, Schopenhauer and Huxley, 
— little atomic theories like grains of dust in the whirlwind of 
My knowledge ! I can tell you I believe in God as a very 


Actual and Positive Being, — and that is presumably the first 
of the Church articles." 

"You believe in God!" I echoed his words, staring at 
him stupidly. He seemed in earnest. In fact he had always 
seemed in earnest on the subject of Deity. Vaguely I thought 
of a woman in society whom I slightly knew, — an ugly woman, 
unattractive and mean-minded, who passed her time in enter- 
taining semi-Royalties and pushing herself amongst them, — 
she had said to me one day — "I hate people who believe in 
God, don't you? The idea of a God makes me sick /" 

"You believe in God !" I repeated again dubiously. 

"Look!" he said, raising his hand towards the sky. 
"There, a few drifting clouds cover millions of worlds, im- 
penetrable, mysterious, yet actual; — down there," and he 
pointed to the sea, " lurk a thousand things of which, though 
the ocean is a part of earth, human beings have not yet 
learned the nature. Between these upper and lower spaces 
of the Incomprehensible yet Absolute, you, a finite atom of 
limited capabilities stand, uncertain how long the frail thread 
of your life shall last, yet arrogantly balancing the question 
with your own poor brain, as to whether you, — yoic in your 
utter littleness and incompetency shall condescend to accept a 
God or not ! I confess, that of all astonishing things in the 
Universe, this particular attitude of modern mankind is the 
most astonishing to me !" 

"Your own attitude is? " 

" The reluctant acceptance of such terrific knowledge as is 
forced upon me," he replied with a dark smile. "I do not 
say I have been an apt or a willing pupil, — I have had to 
suffer in learning what I know !" 

" Do you believe in hell!" I asked him suddenly — "and 
in Satan, the Arch-Enemy of mankind?" 

He was silent for so long that I was surprised, the more so 
as he grew pale to the lips, and a curious, almost deathlike 
rigidity of /eature gave his expression something of the ghastly 
and terrible. After a pause he turned his eyes upon me, — 



an intense burning misery was reflected in them, though he 

*' Most assuredly I believe in hell ! How can I do other- 
wise if I believe in heaven? If there is an Up there must be 
a Down ; if there is Light, there must also be Darkness. 
And, . . . concerning the Arch-Enemy of mankind, — if 
half the stories reported of him be true, he must be the 
most piteous and pitiable figure in the Universe ! What 
would be the sorrows of a thousand million worlds, com- 
pared to the sorrows of Satan ! ' ' 

" Sorrows !" I echoed. " He is supposed to rejoice in the 
working of evil !" 

''Neither angel nor devil can do that," he said slowly. 
" To rejoice in the working of evil is a temporary mania 
which affects man only. For actual joy to come out of evil, 
Chaos must come again, and God must extinguish Himself." 
He stared across the dark sea, — the sun had sunk, and one 
faint star twinkled through the clouds. *' And so I again say 
— the sorrows of Satan ! Sorrows immeasurable as eternity 
itself, — imagine them ! To be shut out of Heaven ! — to hear, 
all through the unending aeons, the far-off voices of angels 
whom once he knew and loved ! — to be a wanderer among 
deserts of darkness, and to pine for the light celestial that 
was formerly as air and food to his being, — and to know that 
Man's folly, Man's utter selfishness, Man's cruelty, keep him 
thus exiled, an outcast from pardon and peace ! Man's 
nobleness may lift the Lost Spirit almost within reach of his 
lost joys, — but Man's vileness drags him down again, — easy 
was the torture of Sisyphus compared with the torture of 
Satan ! No wonder that he loathes Mankind ! — small blame 
to him if he seeks to destroy the puny tribe eternally, — little 
marvel that he grudges them their share of immortality ! 
Think of it as a legend merely," — and he turned upon me 
with a movement that was almost fierce, — " Christ redeemed 
Man, — and by his teaching, showed how it was possible for 
Man to redeem the Devil !" 


"I do not understand yon," I said feebly, awed by the 
strange pain and passion of his tone. 

" Do you not? Yet my meaning is scarcely obscure ! If 
men were true to their immortal instincts and to the God that 
made them,. — if they were generous, honest, fearless, faithful, 
reverent, unselfish, ... if women were pure, brave, tender 
and loving, — can you not imagine that, in the strong force 
and fairness of such a world, * Lucifer, son of the Morning' 
would be moved to love instead of hate?— that the closed 
doors of Paradise would be unbarred, — and that he, lifted 
towards his Creator on the prayers of pure lives, would wear 
again his Angel's crown? Can you not rtalize this, even by 
way of a legendary story ?' ' 

''Why yes, as a legendary story the idea is beautiful," — I 
admitted, — '' and to me, as I told you once before, quite new. 
Still, as men are never likely to be honest, or women pure, 
I'm afraid the poor Devil stands a bad chance of ever getting 
redeemed ! ' ' 

"I fear so too !" and he eyed me with a curious derision — 
" I very much fear so ! And his chances being so slight, 
I rather respect him for being the Arch-Enemy of such a 
worthless race!" He paused a moment, then added — "I 
wonder how we have managed to get on such an absurd 
subject of conversation ? It is dull and uninteresting, as all 
' spiritual' themes invariably are. My object in bringing you 
out on this voyage is not to indulge in psychological argu- 
ment, but to make you forget your troubles as much as pos- 
sible, and enjoy the present while it lasts." 

There was a vibration of compassionate kindness in his 
voice which at once moved me to an acute sense of self-pity, 
the worst enervator of moral force that exists. I sighed 

''Truly I have suffered," I said — "more than most men !" 

"More even than most millionaires deserve to suffer!" 
declared Lucio, with that inevitable touch of sarcasm which 
distinguished some of his friendliest remarks. "Money is 


supposed to make amends to a man for everything, — and 
even the wealthy wife of a certain Irish * patriot' has not 
found it incompatible with affection to hold her moneybags 
close to herself while her husband has been declared a bank- 
rupt. How she has 'idolized' him, let others say ! Now, 
considering _y^//r cash-abundance, it must be owned the fates 
have treated you somewhat unkindly !" 

The smile that was half-cruel and half-sweet radiated in his 
eyes as he spoke, — and again a singular revulsion of feeling 
against him moved me to dislike and fear. And yet, — how 
fascinating was his company ! I could not but admit that the 
voyage with him to Alexandria on board ' The Flame' was 
one of positive enchantment and luxury all the way. There 
was nothing in a material sense left to wish for, — all that could 
appeal to the intelligence or the imagination had been thought 
of on board this wonderful yacht which bped like a fairy ship 
over the sea. Some of the sailors were skilled musicians, and 
on tranquil nights, or at sunset, would bring stringed instru- 
ments and discourse to our ears the most dulcet and ravishing 
melodies. Lucio himself too would often sing, — his luscious 
voice resounding, as it seemed, over all the visible sea and 
sky, with such passion as might have drawn an angel down 
to listen. Gradually my mind became impregnated with 
these snatches of mournful, fierce, or weird minor tunes, — 
and I began to suffer in silence from an inexplicable depres- 
sion and foreboding sense of misery, as well as from another 
terrible feeling to which I could scarcely give a name, — a 
Aitd^dJixA uncertainty of myself , ^^ of one lost in a wilderness 
and about to die. I endured these fits of mental agony alone, 
— and in such dreary burning moments, believed I was going 
mad. I grew more and more sullen and taciturn, and when 
we at last arrived at Alexandria I was not moved to any par- 
ticular pleasure. The place was new ro me, but I was not 
conscious of novelty, — everything seemed flat, dull, and totally 
uninteresting. A heavy almost lethargic stupor chained my 
wits, and when we left the yacht in harbour and went on to 


Cairo, I was not sensible of any personal enjoyment in the 
journey, or interest in what I saw. I was only partially roused 
when we took possession of a luxurious dahabeah, which, with 
a retinue of attendants, had been specially chartered for us, 
and commenced our lotus-like voyage up the Nile. The 
reed-edged, sluggish yellow river fascinated me, — I used to 
spend long hours reclining at full length in a deck-chair, 
gazing at the flat shores, the blown sand-heaps, the broken 
columns and mutilated temples of the dead kingdoms of the 
past. One evening, thus musing, while the great golden moon 
climbed languidly up into the sky to stare at the wrecks of 
earthly ages I said — 

*' If one could only see these ancient cities as they once ex- 
isted, what strange revelations might be made ! Our modern 
marvels of civilization and progress might seem small trifles 
after all, — for I believe in our days we are only re- discovering 
what the peoples of old time knew. ' ' 

Lucio drew his cigar from his mouth and looked at it medi- 
tatively. Then he glanced up at me with a half-smile — 

"Would you like to see a city resuscitated?" he inquired. 
" Here, in this very spot, some six thousand years ago, a king 
reigned, with a woman not his queen, but his favourite (quite 
a lawful arrangement in those days), who was as famous for 
her beauty and virtue as this river is for its fructifying tide. 
Here civilization had progressed enormously, — with the one 
exception that it had not outgrown faith. Modern France 
and England have beaten the ancients in their scorn of God 
and creed, their contempt for divine things, their unnamable 
lasciviousness and blasphemy. This city" — and he waved 
his hand towards a dreary stretch of shore where a cluster 
of tall reeds waved above the monster fragment of a fallen 
column — " was governed by the strong pure faith of its people 
more than anything, — and the ruler of social things in it was 
a woman. The king's favourite was something like Mavis 
Clare in that she possessed genius, — she had also the qualities 
of justice, intelligence, love, truth and a most noble unself- 


ishness, — she made this place happy. It was a paradise on 
earth while she lived, — when she died, its glory ended. So 
much can a woman do if she chooses, — so much does she not 
do, in her usual cow-like way of living I" 

*' How do you know all this you tell me of?" I asked 

'*By study of past records," he replied. I read what 
modern men declare they have no time to read. You are 
right in the idea that all ' new' things are only old things 
re-invented or re-discovered, — if you had gone a step further 
and said that some of men's present lives are only the continu- 
ation of their past, you would not have been wrong. Now, 
if you like, I can, by my science, show you the city that stood 
here long ago, — the ' City Beautiful' as its name is, translated 
from the ancient tongue." 

I roused myself from my lounging attitude and looked at 
him amazedly. He met my gaze unmoved. 

''You can show it to me !" I exclaimed. '' How can you 
do such an impossible thing ?' ' 

** Permit me to hypnotize you," he answered smiling. 
'*My system of hypnotism is, very fortunately, not yet dis- 
covered by meddlesome inquirers into occult matters, — but it 
never fails of its effect, — and I promise you, you shall, under 
my influence, see not only the place, but the people." 

My curiosity was strongly excited, and I became more eager 
to try the suggested experiment than I cared to openly show. 
I laughed, however, with affected indifference. 

"I am perfectly willing !" I said. *' All the same, I don't 
think you can hypnotize me, — I have much too strong a will 

of my own " at which remark I saw a smile, dark and 

saturnine, hover on his lips — *' But you can make the at- 

He rose at once, and signed to one of our Egyptian 

''Stop the dahabeah, Azimah," he said. "We will rest 
here for the night." 


Azimah, a superb-looking Eastern in picturesque white gar- 
ments, put his hands to his head in submission and retired to 
give the order. In another few moments the dahabeah had 
stopped. A great silence was around us, — the moonlight fell 
like yellow wine on the deck, — in the far distance, across the 
stretches of dark sand, a solitary column towered so clear-cut 
against the sky that it was almost possible to discern upon it 
the outline of a monstrous face. Lucio stood still, confront- 
ing me, — saying nothing, but looking me steadily through and 
through, with those wonderfully mystic, melancholy eyes that 
seemed to penetrate and burn my very flesh. I was attracted 
as a bird might be by the basilisk eyes of a snake, — yet I tried 
to smile and say something indifferent. My efforts were use- 
less, — personal consciousness was slipping from me fast, — the 
sky, the water and the moon whirled round each other in a 
giddy chase for precedence ; — I could not move, for my limbs 
seemed fastened to my chair with weights of iron, and I was 
for a few minutes absolutely powerless. Then suddenly my 
vision cleared (^as I thought) — my senses grew vigorous and 
alert, ... I heard the sound of solemn marching music, and 
there, — there in the full radiance of the moon, with a thou- 
sand lights gleaming from towers and cupolas, shone the ' City 
Beautiful' ! 


A VISION of majestic buildings, vast, stately and gigantic ! 
— of streets crowded with men and women in white and 
coloured garments, adorned with jewels, — of flowers that grew 
on the roofs of palaces and swung from terrace to terrace 
in loops and garlands of fantastic bloom, — of trees, broad- 
branched and fully leafed, — of mirble embankments over- 
looking the river, — of lotus-lilies growing thickly below, by 
the wafer's edge, — of music, that echoed in silver and brazen 
twangings from the shelter of shady gardens and covered bal- 



conieSj — every beautiful detail rose before me more distinctly 
than an ivory carving mounted on an ebony shield. Just 
opposite where I stood, or seemed to stand, on the deck of a 
vessel in the busy harbour, a wide avenue extended, opening 
up into huge squares embellished with strange figures of 
granite gods and animals, — I saw the sparkling spray of many 
fountains in the moonlight, and heard the low persistent hum 
of the restless human multitudes that thronged the place as 
thickly as bees clustered in a hive. To the left of the scene I 
could discern a huge bronze gate guarded by sphinxes ; there 
was a garden beyond it, and from that depth of shade a girl's 
voice, singing a strange wild melody, came floating towards 
me on the breeze. Meanwhile the marching music I had first 
of all caught the echo of, sounded nearer and nearer, — and 
presently I perceived a great crowd approaching with lighted 
torches and garlands of flowers. Soon 1 saw a band of priests 
in brilliant robes that literally blazed with sun-like gems, — 
they were moving towards the river, and with them came young 
boys and little children, while on either side, maidens white- 
veiled and rose-wreathed, paced demurely, swinging silver 
censors to and fro. After the priestly procession walked a 
regal figure between ranks of slaves and attendants, — I knew 
it for the King of this ' City Beautiful,' and was almost moved 
to join in the thundering acclamations which greeted his 
progress. And that snowy palanquin, carried by lily-crowned 
girls, that followed his train, — who occupied it ? . . . what 
gem of his land was thus tenderly enshrined ? I was consumed 
by an extraordinary longing to know this, — I watched the 
white burden coming nearer to my point of vantage, — I saw 
the priests arrange themselves in a semi circle on the river- 
embankment, the King in their midst, and the surging shout- 
ing multitude around, — then came the brazen clangour of 
many bells, intermixed with the rolling of drums and the 
shrilling sound of reed pipes lightly blown upon, — and, amid 
the blaze of the flaring torches, the White Palanquin was set 
down upon the ground. A woman, clad in some silvery 


glistening tissue, stepped forth from it like a sylph from the 

foam of the sea, but she was veiled, — I could not discern 

so much as the outline of her features, and the keen disap- 
pointment of this was a positive torture to me. If I could 
but see her, I thought, I should know something I had never 
hitherto guessed ! '' Lift, oh, lift the shrouding veil, Spirit of 
the City Beautiful !" I inwardly prayed— " For I feel I shall 
read in your eyes the secret of happiness !" 

But the veil was not withdrawn, . . . the music made bar- 
baric clamour in my ears, . . . the blaze of strong light and 
colour blinded me, . . . and I felt myself reeling into a dark 
chaos, where, as I imagined, I chased the moon, as she flew 
before me on silver wings, — then , . . the sound of a rich 
baritone trolling out a light song from a familiar modern 

opera bouffe confused and startled me, and in another 

second I found myself staring wildly at Lucio, who, lying 
easily back in his deck-chair, was carolling joyously to the 
silent night and the blank expan-e of sandy shore, in front of 
which our dahabeah rested motionless. With a cry I flung 
myself upon him. 

** Where is she?" I exclaimed. *' Who is she?" 

He looked at me without replying, and smiling quizzically, 
released himself from my sudden grasp. I drew back shud- 
dering and bewildered. 

" I saw it all !" I murmured — " The city — the priests, — the 
people — the King ! all but Her face ! Why was that hid- 
den from me ! " 

And actual tears rose to my eyes involuntarily, — Lucio sur- 
veyed me with evident amusement. 

" What a 'find' you would be to a first-class ' spiritual' im- 
postor playing his tricks in cultured and easily-gulled London 
society !" he observed. '' You seem most powerfully impressed 
by a passing vision !" 

" Do you mean to tell me," I said earnestly, " that what I 
saw just now was the mere thought of your brain conveyed to 
mine ?' ' 

T cc 37 


"Precisely!" he responded. 'I know what the 'City 
Beautiful' was like, and I was able to draw it for you on the 
canvas of my memory and present it as a complete picture to 
your inward sight. For you have an inward sight, — though, 
like most people, you live unconscious of that neglected 
faculty. ' ' 

*' But — who was She?" I repeated obstinately. 

*' 'She' was, I presume, the King's favourite. If she kept 
her face hidden from you as you complain, I am sorry ! — but 
I assure you it was not my fault ! Get to bed, Geoffrey, — you 
look dazed. You take visions badly, — yet they are better than 
realities, believe me !" 

Somehow I could not answer him. I left him abruptly and 
went below to try and sleep, but my thoughts were all cruelly 
confused, and I began to be more than ever overwhelmed with 
a sense of deepening terror, — a feeling that I was being com- 
manded, controlled, and, as it were, driven along by a force 
that had in it something unearthly. It was a most distressing 
sensation, — it made me shrink, at times, from the look of 
Lucio's eyes, — now and then indeed I almost cowered before 
him, so increasingly great was the indefinable dread I had of 
his presence. It was not so much the strange vision of the 
' City Beautiful' that had inspired this in me, — for after all, 
that was only a trick of hypnotism, as he had said, and as I 
was content to argue it with myself, — but it was his whole 
manner that suddenly began to impress me as it had never im- 
pressed me before. If any change was slowly taking place in 
my sentiments towards him, so surely it seemed was he changing 
equally towards me. His imperious ways were more impe- 
rial, — his sarcasm more sarcastic, — his contempt for mankind 
more openly displayed and more frequently pronounced. Yet 
I admired him as much as ever, — I delighted in his conversa- 
tion, whether it were witty, philosophical, or cynical, — I could 
not imagine myself without his company. Nevertheless the 
gloom on my mind deepened, — our Nile trip became infinitely 
wearisome to me, so much so, that almost before we had 


got half-way on our journey up the river, I longed to turn 
back again and wished the voyage at an end. An incident 
that occurred at Luxor was more than sufficient to strengthen 
this desire. We had stayed there for several days exploring 
the district and visiting the ruins of Thebes and Karnac, where 
they were busy excavating tombs. One afternoon they brought 
to light a red granite sarcophagus intact, — in it was a richly 
painted coffin which was opened in our presence, and was found 
to contain the elaborately adorned mummy of a woman. Lucio 
proved himself an apt reader of hieroglyphics, and he trans- 
lated in brief and with glib accuracy the history of the corpse 
as it was pictured inside the sepulchral shell. 

"A dancer at the court of Queen Amenartes," he an- 
nounced for the benefit of several interested spectators who with 
myself stood round the sarcophagus, — ''who, because of her 
many sins, and secret guilt, which made her life unbearable, 
and her days full of corruption, died of poison administered 
by her own hand, according to the King's command, and in 
presence of the executioners of law. Such is the lady's story, — 
condensed ; — there are a good many other details of course. 
She appears to have been only in her twentieth year. Well !" 
and he smiled as he looked round upon his little audience, — 
*' we may congratulate ourselves on having progressed since 
the days of these over-strict ancient Egyptians ! The sins of 
dancers are not, with us, taken aiL grand serieux ! Shall we 
see what she is like ?" 

No objection was raised by the authorities concerned in 
the discoveries, — and I, who had never witnessed the unroll- 
ing of a mummy before, watched the process with great 
interest and curiosity. As one by one of the scented wrap- 
pings were removed, a long tress of nut-brown hair became 
visible, — then, those who were engaged in the task, used more 
extreme and delicate precaution, Lucio himself assisting them 
to uncover the face. As this was done, a kind of sick horror 
stole over me, — brown and stiff as parchment though the 
features were, their contour was recognisable, — and when the 


whole countenance was exposed to view I could almost have 
shrieked aloud the name of ^ Sibyl P For it was like her ! — 
dreadfully like! — and as the faint half-aromatic half-putrid 
odours of the unrolled cerements crept towards me on the air, 
I reeled back giddily and covered my eyes. Irresistibly I was 
reminded of the subtle French perfume exhaled from Sibyl's 
garments when I found her dead, — that, and this sickly 
effluvia were not unlike ! A man standing near me saw me 
swerve as though about to fall, and caught me on his arm. 

** The sun is too strong for you I fear?" he said kindly. 
** This climate does not suit everybody." 

I forced a smile and murmured something about a passing 
touch of vertigo, — then, recovering myself I gazed fearfully 
at Lucio, who was studying the mummy attentively with a 
curious smile. Presently stooping over the coffin he took 
out of it a piece of finely wrought gold in the shape of a 

"This, I imagine must be the fair dancer's portrait," he 
said, holding it up to the view of all the eager and exclaiming 
spectators. " Quite a treasure- trove ! An admirable piece of 
ancient workmanship, besides being the picture of a very lovely 
woman. Do you not think so, Geoffrey?" 

He handed me the medallion, — and I examined it with 
deadly and fascinated interest, — the face was exquisitely beau- 
tiful, — but assuredly it was the face of Sibyl ! 

I never remember how I lived through the rest of that day. 
At night, as soon as I had an opportunity of speaking to 
Rimanez alone, I asked him — 

*' Did you see, — did you not recognise? ..." 

'* That the dead Egyptian dancer resembled your late wife ?" 
he quietly continued. " Yes, — I noticed it at once. But that 
should not affect you. History repeats itself, — why should 
not lovely women repeat themselves? Beauty always has its 
double somewhere, either in the past or future." 

I said no more, — but next morning I was very ill, — so ill 
that I could not rise from my bed, and passed the hours in 


restless moaning and irritable pain that was not so much 
physical as mental. There was a physician resident at the 
hotel at Luxor, and Lucio, always showing himself particularly 
considerate for my personal comfort, sent for him at once. 
He felt my pulse, shook his head, and after much dubious 
pondering, advised my leaving Egypt immediately. I heard 
his mandate given with a joy I could scarcely conceal. The 
yearning I had to get quickly away from this ' land of the old 
gods' was intense and feverish, — I loathed the vast and awful 
desert silences, where the Sphinx frowns contempt on the 
puny littleness of mankind, — where the opened tombs and 
coffins expose once more to the light of day faces that are 
the very semblances of those we ourselves have known and 
loved in our time, — and where painted history tells us of just 
such things as our modern newspapers chronicle, albeit in 
different form. Rimanez was ready and willing to carry out 
the doctor's orders, — and arranged our return to Cairo, and 
from thence to Alexandria, wath such expedition as left me 
nothing to desire, and filled me with gratitude for his apparent 
sympathy. In as short a time as abundance of cash could 
make possible, we had rejoined 'The Flame,' and were en 
route ^ as I thought, for France or England. We had not ab- 
solutely settled our destination, having some idea of coasting 
along the Riviera, — but my old confidence in Rimanez being 
now almost restored, I left this to him for decision, sufficiently 
satisfied in myself that I had not been destined to leave my 
bones in terror-haunted Egypt. And it was not till I had 
been about a week or ten days on board, and had made good 
progress in the recovery of my health, that the beginning of 
the end of this never-to-be-forgotten voyage was foreshadowed 
to me in such terrific fashion as nearly plunged me into the 
darkness of death, — or rather let me now say (having learned 
my bitter lesson thoroughly), into the fell brilliancy of that 
Life beyond the tomb which we refuse to recognise or realize 
till we are whirled into its glorious or awful vortex ! 

One evening, after a bright day of swift and enjoyable sail- 


ing over a smooth and sunlit sea, I retired to rest in my cabin, 
feeling almost happy. My mind was perfectly tranquil, — my 
trust in my friend Lucio was again re-established, — and I may 
add, so was my old arrogant and confident trust in myself. 
My access to fortune had not, so far, brought me either much 
joy or distinction, — but it was not too late for me yet to pluck 
the golden apples of Hesperides. The various troubles I had 
endured, though of such recent occurrence, began to assume 
a blurred indistinctness in my mind, as of things long past 
and done with, — I considered the strength of my financial 
position again with satisfaction, to the extent of contemplating 
a second marriage — and that marriage with — Mavis Clare ! 
No other woman should be my wife, I mentally swore, — she, 
and she only should be mine ! I foresaw no difficulties in the 
way, — and full of pleasant dreams and self-delusions I settled 
myself in my berth, and dropped easily off to sleep. About 
midnight I awoke vaguely terrified, to see the cabin full of a 
strong red light and fierce glare. My first dazed impression 
was that the }acht was on fire, — the next instant I became 
paralyzed and dumb with horror. Sibyl stood before me ! 
. . . Sibyl, a wild, strange, tortured writhing figure half nude, 
waving beckoning arms, and making desperate gestures, — her 
face was as I had seen it last in death, livid and hideous, . . . 
her eyes blazed mingled menace, despair, and warning upon 
me ! Round her a living wreath of flame coiled upwards like 
a twisted snake, . . . her lips moved as though she strove 
to speak, but no sound came from them, — and while I yet 
looked at her, she vanished ! I must have lost consciousness 
then, — for when I awoke, it was broad day. But this ghastly 
visitation was only the first of many such, — and at last, every 
night I saw her thus, sheeted in flame, till I grew well-nigh 
mad with fear and misery. My torment was indescribable, — 
yet I said nothing to Lucio, who watched me, as I imagined, 
narrowly, — I took sleeping-draughts in the hope to procure 
unbroken rest, but in vain, — always I woke at one particular 
moment, and always I had to face this fiery phantom of my 


dead wife, with despair in her eyes and an unuttered warning 
on her lips. This was not all. One day in the full sunlight 
of a quiet afternoon, I entered the saloon of the yacht alone, 
and started back amazed to see my old friend John Carrington 
seated at the table, pen in hand, casting up accounts. He 
bent over his papers closely, — his face was furrowed and very 
pale, — but so life-like was he, so seemingly substantial, that I 
called him by name, whereat he looked up, — smiled drearily, 
and was gone ! Trembling in every limb I realized that here 
was another spectral terror added to the burden of my days ; 
and sitting down, I tried to rally my scattered forces and 
reason out what w^as best to be done. There was no doubt 
I was very ill ; — the.-.e phantoms were the warning of brain- 
disease. I must endeavour, I thought, to keep myself well 
under control till I got to England, — there I determined to 
consult the best physicians, and put myself under their care 
till I was thoroughly restored. 

" Meanwhile" — I muttered to myself—'' I will say nothing, 
. . . not even to Lucio. He would only smile, . . . and I 
should hate him ! . . . " 

I broke off, wondering at this. For was it possible I should 
ever hate him ? Surely not ! 

That night, by way of a change, I slept in a hammock on 
deck, hoping to dispel midnight illusions by resting in the 
open air. But my sufferings were only intensified. I woke as 
usual, ... to see, not only Sibyl, but also, to my deadly fear, 
the Three dark Phantoms that had appeared to me in my 
room in London on the evening of Viscount Lynton's suicide. 
There they were,— the same, the very same, — only this time all 
their livid faces were lifted and turned towards me, and though 
their lips never moved, the word * Misery !' seemed uttered, for 
I heard it tolling like a funeral bell on the air and across the 
sea! . . . And Sibyl, with her face of death in the coils of a 
silent flame, . . . Sibyl, — smiled at me ! a smile of tor- 
ture and remorse ! . . . God ! — I could endure it no longer ! 
Leaping from my hammock, I ran towards the vessel's edge, 


. . . one plunge into the cool waves, ... ha ! — there stood 
Amiel, with his impenetrable dark face and ferret eyes. 

" Can 1 assist you sir?" he inquired deferentially. 

I stared at him, — then burst into a laugh. 

''Assist me? Why no! — you can do nothing. I want 
rest, . . . and I cannot sleep here, . . . the air is too close 

and sulphureous, the very stars are burning hot ! . . ." 

I paused, — he regarded me with his usual gravely derisive 
expression. "I am going down to my cabin," I continued, 

trying to speak more calmly " I shall be a/o/ie there . . . 

perhaps!" Again I laughed wildly and involuntarily, and 
staggered away from him down the deck-stairs, afraid to look 
back lest I should see those Three dread Figures of fate fol- 
lowing me. 

Once safe in my cabin I shut to the door violently, and in 
feverish haste seized my case of pistols. I took out one and 
loaded it. My heart was beating furiously, — I kept my eyes 
fixed on the ground, lest they should encounter the dead eyes 
of Sibyl. 

" One click of the trigger," I whispered, '' and all is over ! 
I shall be at peace, — senseless, — sightless and painless. Hor- 
rors can no longer haunt me, ... I shall sleep !" 

I raised the weapon steadily to my right temple, . . . when 
suddenly my cabin-door opened, and Lucio looked in. 

''Pardon me!" he said as he observed my attitude. "I 
had no idea you were busy ! I will go away. I would not 
disturb you for the world !" 

His smile had something fiendish in its fine mockery ; — 
moved with a quick revulsion of feeling I turned the pistol 
downwards and held its muzzle firmly against the table near 

" Ybii say that !" I exclaimed in acute anguish, — "jw/ say 
it — seeing me thus ! I thought you were my friend !" 

He looked full at me, ... his eyes grew large and lumi- 
nous with a splendour of scorn, passion and sorrow inter- 


''Did you?" and again the terrific smile lit up his pale 
features, — " you were mistaken ! / am your E?tef?iy /' ' 

A dreadful silence followed. Something lurid and un- 
earthly in his expression appalled me, ... I trembled and 
grew cold with fear. Mechanically I replaced the pistol in its 

case, then I gazed up at him with a vacant wonder and 

wild piteousness, seeing that his dark and frowning figure 
seemed to increase in stature, towering above me like the 
gigantic Shadow of a storm-cloud ! My blood froze with an 
unnamable sickening terror, . . . then, thick darkness veiled 
my sight, and I dropped down senseless ! 


Thunder and wild tumult, — the glare of lightning, — the 
shattering roar of great waves leaping mountains high and 
hissing asunder in mid-air, — to this fierce riot of savage ele- 
ments let loose in a whirling boisterous dance of death, I woke 
at last with a convulsive shock. Staggering to my feet I stood 
in the black obscurity of my cabin, trying to rally my scat- 
tered forces, — the electric lamps were extinguished, and the 
lightning alone illumined the sepulchral darkness. Frantic 
shoutings echoed above me on deck, — fiend-like yells that 
sounded now like triumph, now like despair, and again like 
menace, — the yacht leaped to and fro like a hunted stag amid 
the furious billows, and every frightful crash of thunder threat- 
ened, as it seemed, to split her in twain. The wind howled 
like a devil in torment, — it screamed and moaned and sobbed 
as though endowed with a sentient body that suffered acutest 
agony, — anon it rushed downwards with an angry swoop as of 
wide-flapping wings, and at each raging gust I thought the ves- 
sel must surely founder. Forgetting everything but immediate 
personal danger, I tried to open my door. It was locked out- 
side 1 — I was a prisoner ! My indignation at this discovery 


exceeded every other feeling, and beating with both hands on 
the wooden panels, I called, I shouted, I threatened, I swore, 
— all in vain ! Thrown down twice by the topsy-turvy lurch- 
ing of the yacht, I still kept up a desperate hammering and 
calling, striving to raise my voice above the distracting pan- 
demonium of noise that seemed to possess the ship from end 
to end, but all to no purpose, — and finally, hoarse and ex- 
hausted, I stopped and leaned against the unyielding door to 
recover breath and strength. The storm appeared to be in- 
creasing in force and clamour, — the lightning was well-nigh 
incessant, and the clattering thunder followed each flash so 
instantaneously as to leave no doubt but that it was immedi- 
ately above us. I listened, — and presently heard a frenzied 
cry — 

''Breakers ahead!" This was followed by peals of dis- 
cordant laughter. Terrified, I strained my ears for every 
sound, — and all at once someone spoke to me quite closely, 
as though the very darkness around me had found a tongue. 

"Breakers ahead! Throughout the world, storm and 
danger and doom ! Doom and Death ! — but afterwards — 

A certain intonation in these words filled me with such 
frantic horror that I fell on my knees in abject misery and 
almost prayed to the God I had through all my life disbelieved 
in and denied. But I was too mad with fear to find words ; — 
the dense blackness, — the horrid uproar of the wind and sea, 
— the infuriated and confused shouting, — all this was to my 
mind as though hell itself had broken loose, and I could only 
kneel dumbly and tremble. Suddenly a swirling sound as of 
an approaching monstrous whirlwind made itself heard above 
all the rest of the din, — a sound that gradually resolved itself 
into a howling chorus of thousands of voices sweeping along 
on the gusty blast, fierce cries were mingled with the jar- 
ring thunder, and I leapt erect as I caught the words of the 
clangorous shout — 

" Ave Sathanas ! Ave !" 


Rigidly upright, with limbs stiffening for sheer terror, I 
stood listening, — the waves seemed to roar " Ave Sathanas !" 
— the wind shrieked it to the thunder, — the lightning wrote it 
in a snaky line of fire on the darkness, "Ave Sathanas!" 
My brain swam round and grew full to bursting, — I was 
going mad, — raving mad surely ! — or why should I thus 
distinctly hear such unmeaning sounds as these? With a 
sudden access of superhuman force I threw the whole weight 
of my body against the door of my cabin in a delirious effort 
to break it open, — it yielded slightly, — and I prepared myself 
for another rush and similar attempt, — when all at once it was 
flung widely back, admitting a stream of pale light, and Lucio, 
wrapped in heavy shrouding garments, confronted me. 

''Follow me, Geoffrey Tempest," he said in low clear 
tones. " Your time has come !" 

As he spoke, all self-possession deserted me, — the terrors of 
the storm, and now the terror of his presence, overwhelmed 
my strength, and I stretched out my hands to him appealingly, 
unknowing what I did or said. 

'' For God's sake . . . !" I began wildly. 

He silenced me by an imperious gesture. 

"Spare me your prayers! For God's sake, for your own 
sake, and for mine ! Follow !" 

He moved before me like a black phantom in the pale 
strange light surrounding him, — and I, dazzled, dazed and 
terror-stricken, trod in his steps closely, moved, as it seemed, 
by some volition not my own, till I found myself alone with 
him in the saloon of the yacht, with the waves hissing up 
against the windows like live snakes ready to sting. Trem- 
bling and scarcely able to stand, I sank on a chair, — he 
turned round and looked at me for a moment meditatively. 
Then he threw open one of the windows, — a huge wave 
dashed in and scattered its bitter salt spray upon me where I 
sat, — but I heeded nothing, — my agonized looks were fixed 
on Him, — the Being I had so long made the companion of my 
days. Raising his hand with a gesture of authority he said — 


*' Back, ye devils of the sea and wind ! — ye which are not 
God's elements, but My servants, the unrepenting souls of 
men ! Lost in the waves, or whirled in the hurricane, which- 
ever ye have made your destiny, get hence and cease your 
clamour ! This hour is Mine !" 

Panic-stricken I heard, — aghast I saw the great billows that 
had shouldered up in myriads against the vessel, sink sud- 
denly, — the yelling wind dropped, silenced, — the yacht glided 
along with a smooth even motion as though on a tranquil 
inland lake, — and almost before I could realize it, the light 
of the full moon beamed forth brilliantly and fell in a broad 
stream across the floor of the saloon. But in the very cessa- 
tion of the storm the words ''Ave Sathanas !" trembled as 
it were upwards to my ears from the underworld of the sea, 
and died away in distance like a parting echo of thunder. 
Then Lucio faced me, — with what a countenance of sublime 
and awful beauty ! 

"Do you know Me now, man whom my millions of dross 
have made wretched? — or do you need me to tell you WHO 

My lips moved, — but I could not speak ; the dim and 
dreadful thought that was dawning on my mind seemed as 
yet too frenzied, too outside the boundaries of material sense 
for mortal utterance. 

" Be dumb, — be motionless ! — but hear and feel !" he con- 
tinued. " By the supreme power of God, — for there is no 
other Power in any world or any heaven, — I control and com- 
mand you at this moment, your own will being set aside for 
once as naught. I choose you as one out of millions to learn 
in this life the lesson that all must learn hereafter ; — let every 
faculty of your intelligence be ready to receive that which I 
shall impart, — and teach it to your fellow-men if you have a 
conscience as you have a Soul !" 

Again I strove to speak, — he seemed so human, — so much 
my friend still, though he had declared himself my Enemy, 
and yet . . . what was that lambent radiance encircling 


his brows ? — that burning glory steadily deepening and flashing 
from his eyes ? 

**You are one of the world's 'fortunate' men," he went 
on, surveying me straightly and pitilessly. ''So at least this 
world judges you, because you can buy its good-will. But the 
Powers that govern all worlds do not judge you by such a 
standard, — you cannot buy their good-will, not though all the 
Churches should offer to sell it you. They regard you as you 
a7'e, stripped soul-naked, — not as you sceju. They behold in 
you a shameless egoist, persistently engaged in defacing their 
divine Image of Immortality, — and for that sin there is no 
excuse and no escape but Punishment. Whosoever prefers 
Self to God, and in the arrogance of that Self, presumes to 
doubt and deny God, invites another power to compass his 
destinies, — the power of Evil, made evil and kept evil by the 
disobedience and wickedness of Man alone, — that power whom 
mortals call Satan, Prince of Darkness, — but whom once the 
angels knew as Lucifer, Prince of Light!" . . . He broke 
off, — paused, — and his flaming regard fell full upon me. " Do 
you know Me, . . . now?" 

I sat a rigid figure of fear, dumbly staring, . . . was this 
man, for he seemed man, mad, that he should thus hint at a 
thing too wild and terrible for speech ? 

" If you do not know Me, — if you do not feel in your con- 
victed soul that you are aware of Me, — it is because you -will 
not know ! Thus do I come upon men, when they rejoice in 
their wilful self-blindness and vanity ! — thus do I become their 
constant companion, humouring them in such vices as they 
best love ! — thus do I take on the shape that pleases them, 
and fit myself to their humours ! They make me what I am ; 
— they mould my very form to the fashion of their flitting 
time. Through all their changing and repeating eras, they 
have found strange names and titles for me, — and their 
creeds and churches have made a monster of me, — as though 
imagination could compass any worse monster than the Devil 
in Man!" 



Frozen and mute I heard, . . . the dead silence, and his 
resonant voice vibrating through it, seemed more terrific than 
the wildest storm. 

** You, — God's work, — endowed as every conscious atom of 
His creation is endowed, — with the infinite germ of immor- 
tality ; — you, absorbed in the gathering together of such perish- 
able trash as you conceive good for yourself on this planet, — 
vou dare, in the puny reach of your mortal intelligence to 
dispute and question the everlasting things invisible ! You, 
by the Creator's will, are permitted to see the Natural Uni- 
verse, — but in mercy to you, the veil is drawn across the 
Super-natural ! For such things as exist there would break 
your puny earth-brain as a frail shell is broken by a passing 
wheel, — and because you cannot see, you doubt ! You doubt 
not only the surpassing Love and Wisdom that keeps you in 
ignorance till you shall be strong enough to bear full knowl- 
edge, but you doubt the very fact of such another universe 
itself! Arrogant fool! — your hours are counted by Super- 
natural time, — your days are compassed by Super-natural law, 
— your every thought, word, deed and look must go to make 
up the essence and shape of your being in Super-natural life 
hereafter, — and what you have been in your Soul here, must 
and shall be the aspect of your Soul there ! That law knows 
no changing !" 

The light about his face deepened, — he went on in clear 
accents that vibrated with the strangest music. 

"■ Men make their own choice and form their own futures," 
he said. '' And never let them dare to say they are not free 
to choose ! From the uttermost reaches of high Heaven the 
Spirit of God descended to them as Man, — from the utter- 
most depths of lowest Hell, I, the Spirit of Rebellion, come, 
— equally as Man ! But the God-in-Man was rejected and 
slain, — I, the Devil-in-Man live on, forever accepted and 
adored ! Man's choice this is — not God's or mine ! Were this 
self-seeking human race once to reject me utterly, I should 
exist no more as I am, — nor would they exist who are with me. 


Listen, while I trace your career ! — it is a copy of the lives of 
many men ; — and judge how little the powers of Heaven can 
have to do with you ! — how much the powers of Hell !" 

I shuddered involuntarily ; — dimly I began to realize the 
awful nature of this unearthly interview. 

''You, Geoffrey Tempest, are a man in whom a Thought 
of God was once implanted, — that subtle fire or note of 
music out of heaven, called Genius. So great a gift is rarely 
bestowed on any mortal, — and woe betide him, who having 
received it, holds it as of mere personal value, to be used for 
Self and not for God ! Divine laws moved you gently in the 
right path of study, — the path of suffering, of disappoint- 
ment, of self-denial and poverty, — for only by these things is 
humanity made noble, and trained in the ways of perfection. 
Through pain and enduring labour the soul is armed for battle, 
and strengthened for conquest. For it is more difficult to 
bear a victory well, than to endure many buffetings of war ! 
But you, — you resented Heaven's good-will towards you, — the 
Valley of Humiliation suited you not at all. Poverty mad- 
dened you, — starvation sickened you. Yet poverty is better 
than arrogant wealth, — and starvation is healthier than self- 
indulgence ! You could not wait, — your own troubles seemed 
to you enormous, — your own efforts laudable and marvellous, 
— the troubles and efforts of others were nothing to you ; — 
you were ready to curse God and die. Compassionating your- 
self, admiring yourself and none other, with a heart full of 
bitterness, and a mouth full of cursing, you were eager to make 
quick havoc of both your genius and your soul. For this 
cause, your millions of money came and, — so did I r' 

Standing now full height he confronted me, — his eyes were 
less brilliant, but, they reflected in their dark splendour a 
passionate scorn and sorrow. 

" O fool ! — in my very coming I warned you ! — on the very 
day we met I told you I was not what I seemed ! God's ele- 
ments crashed a menace when we made our compact of friend- 
ship ! And I, — when I saw the faint last struggle of the not 


quite torpid soul in you to resist and distrust me, did I not 
urge you to let that better instinct have its way ? You, — ^jester 
with the Supernatural ! — you, — base scoffer at Christ ! A 
thousand hints have been given you, — a thousand chances of 
doing such good as must have forced me to leave you, — as 
would have brought me a welcome respite from sorrow, — a 
moment's cessation of torture !" 

His brows contracted in a sombre frown, — he was silent a 
moment, — then he resumed — 

** Now learn from me the weaving of the web you so will- 
ingly became entangled in ! Your millions of money were 
Mine ! — the man that left you heir to them, was a wretched 
miser, evil to the soul's core ! By virtue of his own deeds he 
and his dross were Mine ! and maddened by the sheer accumu- 
lation of world's wealth, he slew himself in a fit of frenzy. 
He lives again in a new and much more realistic phase of 
existence, and knows the actual value of mankind's cash- 
payments ! This you have yet to learn ! ' ' 

He advanced a step or two, fixing his eyes more steadily 
upon me. 

"Wealth is like Genius, — bestowed not for personal grati- 
fication, but for the benefit of those who lack it. What have 
you done for your fellow-men ? The very book you wrote 
and launched upon the tide of bribery and corruption, was 
published with the intention to secure applause for Yourself, 
not to give help or comfort to others. Your marriage was 
prompted by Lust and Ambition, and in the fair Sensuality 
you wedded, you got your deserts ! No love was in the 
union,— it was sanctified by the blessing of Fashion, but 
not the blessing of God. You have done without God, so 
you fhink ! Every act of your existence has been for the 
pleasure and advancement of Yourself, — and this is why I 
have chosen you out to hear and see what few mortals 
ever hear or see till they have passed the dividing-line 
between this life and the next. I have chosen you because 
you are a type of the apparently respected and unblamable 


man; — you are not what the world calls a criminal, — you 
have murdered no one, — )ou have stolen no neighbour's 
goods, — your unchastities and adulteries are those of every 
' fashionable' vice-monger, — and your blasphemies against the 
Divine are no worse than those of the most approved modern 
magazine-contributors. You are guilty nevertheless of the 
chief crime of the age, — Sensual Egotism, — the blackest sin 
known to either angels or devils, because hopeless. The 
murderer may repent, and save a hundred lives to make up 
for the one he snatched, — the thief may atone with honest 
labour, — the adulterer may scourge his flesh and do grim 
penance for late pardon, — the blasphemer may retrieve his 
blasphemies, — but for the Egoist there is no chance of whole- 
some penitence, since to himself he is perfect, and counts 
his Creator as somew^hat inferior ! This present time of the 
world breathes Egotism, — the taint of Self, the hideous wor- 
ship of money corrodes all life, all thought, all feeling. For 
vulgar cash, the fairest and noblest scenes of Nature are 
wantonly destroyed without protest,-'' — the earth, created in 
beauty, is made hideous, — parents and children, wives and 
husbands are ready to slay each other for a little gold, — 
Heaven is barred out, — God is denied, — and Destruction 
darkens over this planet, known to all angels as the Sorrow^ful 
Star! Be no longer blind, millionaire whose millions have 
ministered to Self without relieving sorrow ! — for when the 
w^orld is totally corrupt, — when Self is dominant, — when cun- 
ning supersedes honesty, — when gold is man's chief ambi- 
tion, — when purity is condemned, — when poets teach lewd- 
ness, and scientists blasphemy, — when love is mocked, and 
God forgotten, — the End is near ! I take My part in that 
end ! — for the souls of mankind are not done with when they 
leave their fleshly tenements ! When this planet is destroyed 
as a bubble broken in the air, the souls of men and women 

* Witness the destruction of Foyers, to the historical shame and disgrace 
of Scotland. — AUTHOR. 

dd 38* 


live on, — as the soul of the woman you loved lives on, — as 
the soul of the mother who bore her lives on, — aye ! — as all 
My worshippers live on through a myriad worlds, a myriad 
phases, till they learn to shape their destinies for Heaven ! 
And I, with them live on, in many shapes, in many ways ! — 
when they return to God cleansed and perfect, so shall I 
return ! — but not till then !" 

He paused again, — and I heard a faint sighing sound every- 
where as of wailing voices, and the name ** Ahrimanes !" was 
breathed suddenly upon the silence. I started up listening, 

every nerve strained Ahrimanes? — or Rimanez? I gazed 

fearfully at him, . . . always beautiful, his countenance was 
now sublime, . . . and his eyes shone with a lustrous flame. 

*'You thought me friend!" he said. *'You should have 
known me foe ! For everyone who flatters a man for his vir- 
tues, or humours him in his vices, is that man's worst enemy, 
whether demon or angel ! But you judged me a fitting com- 
rade, — hence I was bound to serve you, — I and my followers 
with me. You had no perception to realize this, — you, supreme 
scorner of the Supernatural ! Little did you think of the terri- 
fying agencies that worked the wonders of your betrothal feast 
at Willovvsmere ! Little did you dream that fiends prepared 
the costly banquet and poured out the luscious wine !" 

At this, a smothered groan of horror escaped me, — I looked 
wildly round me, longing to find some deep grave of oblivious 
rest wherein to fall. 

"Aye!" he continued — ''The festival was fitted to the time 
of the world to day ! — Society, gorging itself blind and sense- 
less, and attended by a retinue from Hell ! My servants 
looked like men ! — for truly there is little difference 'twixt 
man and devil. 'Twas a brave gathering I — England has never 
seen so strange a one in all her annals !" 

The sighing, wailing cries increased in loudness, — my limbs 
shook under me, and all power of thought was paralyzed in 
my brain. He bent his piercing looks upon me with a new 
expression of infinite wonder, pity and disdain. 


*'What a grotesque creation you men have made of Me !" 
he said — "as grotesque as your conception of God! With 
what trifling human attributes you have endowed me ! Know 
you not that the changeless, yet ever-changing Essence of 
Immortal Life can take a million million shapes and yet 
remain unalterably the same ? Were I as hideous as your 
Churches figure me, — could the eternal beauty with which all 
angels are endowed, ever change to such loathsomeness as 
haunts mankind's distorted imaginations, perchance it would 
be well, — for none would make of me their comrade, and 
none would cherish me as friend. As fits each separate human 
nature, so seems my image, — for thus is my fate and punish- 
ment commanded. Yet even in this mask of man I wear, men 
own me their superior, — think you not that when the Supreme 
Spirit of God wore that same mask on earth, men did not 
know Him for their Master ? Yea, they did know, — and know- 
ing, murdered Him, — as they ever strive to murder all divine 
things as soon as their divinity is recognised. Face to face 
I stood with Him upon the mountain-top, and there fulfilled 
my vow of temptation. Worlds and kingdoms, supremacies 

and powers ! what were they to the Ruler of them all ! 

*Get thee hence, Satan !' said the golden-sounding Voice, — 
ah ! — glorious behest ! — happy respite ! — for I reached the 
very gate of Heaven that night, and heard the angels sing !" 

His accents sank to an infinitely mournful cadence. 

''What have your teachers done with Me and my eternal 
sorrows?" he went on. " Have not they, and the unthinking 
churches, proclaimed a lie against me, saying that I rejoice in 
evil? Oh, man to whom, by God's will and because the 
world's end draws nigh, I unveil a portion of the mystery of 
my doom, learn now once and for all, that there is no possible 
joy in evil ! It is the despair and the discord of the Uni- 
verse,— it is Man's creation, — My torment, — God's sorrow! 
Every sin of every human being adds weight to my torture, 
and length to my doom, — yet my oath against the world must 
be kept. I have sworn to tempt, — to do my uttermost to destroy 


mankind, — but man has not sworn to yield to my tempting. 
He is free ! — let him resist, and 1 depart ; — let him accept me, 
I remain ! Eternal Justice has spoken, — Humanity, through 
the teaching of God made human, must work out its own 
redemption, — and Mine!" 

Here, suddenly advancing, he stretched out his hand, — his 
figure grew taller, vaster and more majestic. 

'' Come with me now !" he said in a low penetrating voice 
that sounded sweet, yet menacing. *' Come ! — for the veil is 
down for you to-night ! You shall understand wiih WHOM 
you have dwelt so long in your shifting cloud-castle of life ! — 
and in What company you have sailed perilous seas ! — one 
who, proud and rebellious, like you, errs less in that he owns 
GOD as his Master!" 

At these words a thundering crash assailed my ears, — all 
the windows on either side of the saloon flew open, and 
showed a strange glitter as of steely spears pointed aloft to 
the moon, . . . then, , . . half-fainting, I felt myself 
grasped and lifted suddenly and forcibly upwards, . . . and 
in another moment found myself on the deck of ' The 
Flame,' held fast as a prisoner in the fierce grip of hands 
invisible. Raising my eyes in deadly despair, — prepared for 
hellish tortures, and with a horrible sense of conviction in my 
soul that it was too late to cry out to God for mercy, — I saw 
around me a frozen world ! — a world that seemed as if the 
sun had never shone upon it. Thick glassy-green walls of 
ice pressed round the vessel on all sides and shut her in 
between their inflexible barriers, — fantastic palaces, pinnacles, 
towers, bridges and arches of ice, formed in their architectural 
outlines and groupings the semblance of a great city, — over 
all the coldly glistening peaks the round moon, emerald-pale, 
looked down, — and standing opposite to me against the mast, 
I beheld, . . . not Lucio, . . . but an Angel ! 



Crowned with a mystic radiance as of trembling stars of 
fire, that sublime Figure towered between me and the moonlit 
sky ; the face, austerely grand and beautiful, shone forth 
luminously pale, — the eyes were full of unquenchable pain, 
unspeakable remorse, unimaginable despair ! The features 
1 had known so long and seen day by day in familiar inter- 
course were the same, — the same, yet transfigured with ethereal 
splendour, while shadowed by an everlasting sorrow ! Bodily 
sensations I was scarcely conscious of; — only the Soul of 
me, hitherto dormant, was awake and palpitating with fear. 
Gradually I became aware that others were around me, and 
looking, I saw a dense crowd of faces, wild and wonderful, — 
imploring eyes were turned upon me in piteous or stern agony, 
— and pallid hands were stretched towards me more in appeal 
than menace. And I beheld, as I gazed, the air darkening 
and anon lightening wiih the shadow and the brightness of 
wings ! — vast pinions of crimson flame began to unfurl and 
spread upwards all round the ice-bound vessel, — upwards 
till their glowing tips seemed well-nigh to touch the moon. 
And He, my Foe, who leaned against the mast, became 
likewise encircled with these shafted pinions of burning 
rose, which, like finely-webbed clouds coloured by a strong 
sunset, streamed outwards flaringly from his dark Form and 
sprang aloft in a blaze of scintillant glory. And a Voice 
infinitely sad, yet infinitely sweet, struck solemn music frojii 
the frozen silence. 

'' Steer onward, Amiel ! Onward, to the boundaries of the 

With every spiritual sense aroused I glanced towards the 
steersman's wheel, — was M^/ Amiel? . . . that Being, stern as 
a figure of deadliest fate, with sable wings and tortured coun- 


tenance? If so, I knew him for a fiend in very truth, if 
burning horror and endless shame can so transfigure the soul 
of man ! A history of crime was written in his anguished 
looks, . . . what secret torment racked him no living mortal 
might dare to guess ! With pallid skeleton hands he moved 
the wheel ; — and as it turned, the walls of ice around us 
began to split with a noise of thunder. 

''Onward, Amiel!" said the great sad Voice again — 
" Onward where never man hath trod, — steer on to the 
world's end !" 

The crowd of weird and terrible faces grew denser, — the 
flaming and darkening of wings became thicker than driving 
storm-clouds rent by lightning, — wailing cries, groans and 
dreary sounds of sobbing echoed about me on all sides, . . . 
again the shattering ice roared like an earthquake under the 
waters, . . . and, unhindered by her frozen prison-walls, the 
ship moved on ! Dizzily, and as one in a mad dream I saw 
the great glittering bergs rock and bend forward, — the massive 
ice-city shook to its foundations, . . . glistening pinnacles 
dropped and vanished, . . . towers lurched over, broke and 
plunged into the sea, — huge mountains of ice split up like fine 
glass, yawning asunder with a green glare in the moonlight as 
the ' Flame,' propelled, so it seemed, by the demon-wings of 
hef terrific crew, cut through the frozen passage with the 
sharpness of a sword and the swiftness of an arrow ! Whither 
were we bound ? I dared not think, — I deenied myself dead. 
The world I saw was not the world I knew, — I believed I was 
in some spirit-land beyond the grave, whose secrets I should 
presently realize perchance too well ! On, — on we went, — I 
keeping my strained sight fixed for the most part on the 
supreme Shape that always confronted me, — that Angel-Foe 
whose eyes were wild with an eternity of sorrows ! Face to 
face with such Immortal Despair, I stood confounded and slain 
forever in my own regard, — a worthless atom, meriting naught 
but annihilation. The wailing cries and groans had ceased, 
— and we sped on in an awful silence, — while countless trage- 


dies, unnamable griefs, were urged upon me in the dumb 
eloquence of the dreary faces round me, and the expressive 
teaching of their terrific eyes. 

Soon the barriers of ice were passed, — and the ' Flame' 
floated out beyond them into a warm inland sea, calm as a 
lake, and bright as silver in the broad radiance of the moon. 
On either side were undulating shores, rich with lofty and 
luxuriant verdure, — I saw the distant hazy outline of dusky 
purple hills, — I heard the little waves plashing against hidden 
rocks, and murmuring upon the sand. Delicious odours filled 
the air ; — a gentle breeze blew, . . . was this the lost Para- 
dise ? — this semi -tropic zone concealed behind a continent of 
ice and snow ? Suddenly, from the tops of the dark branching 
trees, came floating the sound of a bird's singing, — and so 
sweet was the song, so heart-whole was the melody, that my 
aching eyes filled with tears. Beautiful memories rushed upon 
me, — the value and graciousness of life, — life on the kindly 
sunlit earth, — seemed very dear to my soul ! Life's oppor- 
tunities, — its joys, its wonders, its blessings, all showered down 
upon a thankless race by a loving Creator,— these appeared to 
me all at once as marvellous ! Oh, for another chance of such 
life ! — to redeem the past, — to gather up the wasted gems of 
lost moments, — to live as a man should live, in accord with 
the will of God and in brotherhood with his fellow-men ! . . . 
The unknown bird sang on in a cadence like that of a mavis 
in spring, only more tunefully, — surely no other woodland 
songster ever sang half so well ! And as its dulcet notes 
dropped roundly one by one upon the mystic silence, I saw a 
pale Creature move out from amid the shadowing of black and 
scarlet wings, —a white woman-shape, clothed in her own long 
hair. Slowly she glided to the vessel's edge, and there she 
leaned, with anguished face upturned, — it was the face of 
Sibyl ! And even while I looked upon her, she cast herself 
wildly down upon the deck and wept. My soul was stirred 
within me, ... I saw in very truth all that she might have 
been, — I realized what an angel a lit.le guiding love and 


patience might have made her, . . . and at last I pitied her ! 
I never pitied her before ! 

And now many familiar faces shone upon me like white 
stars in a mist of rain, — all faces of the dead, — all marked with 
unquenchable remorse and sorrow. One figure passed before 
me dreamily, in fetters glistening with a weight of gold, — I 
knew him for my college friend of olden days; another, 
crouching on the ground in fear, I recognised as him who 
had staked his last possession at play, even to his immortal 
soul, — I even saw my father's face, worn and aghast with grief, 
— and trembled lest the sacred beauty of her who had died to 
give me birth should find a place among these direful horrors. 

But no ! — thank God I never saw her ! her spirit had not 

lost its way to Heaven ! 

Again my eyes reverted to the Mover of this mystic scene, 
— that Fallen Splendour whose majestic shape now seemed to 
fill both earth and sky. A fiery glory blazed about him, . . . 
he raised his hand, . . . the ship stopped, — and the dark 
Steersman rested motionless on the wheel. Round us the 
moonlit landscape was spread like a glittering dream of fairy- 
land, — and still the unknown bird of God sang on with such 
entrancing tenderness as must have soothed hell's tortured 

" Lo, here we pause !" said the commanding Voice. "Here, 
where the distorted shape of Man hath never cast a shadow ! — 
here, — where the arrogant mind of Man hath never conceived 
a sin ! — here, where the godless greed of Man hath never 
defaced a beauty, or slain a woodland thing ! — here, the last 
spot on earth left untainted by Man's presence ! Here is the 
world's end ! — when this land is found and these shores pro- 
faned, — when Mammon plants its foot upon this soil, — then 
dawns the Judgment-Day ! But, until then, . . . here, where 
only God doth work perfection, angels may look down undis- 
mayed, and even fiends find rest !" 

A solemn sound of music surged upon the air, — and I who 
had been one as in chains, bound by invisible bonds and unable 



to stir, was suddenly liberated. Fully conscious of freedom I 
still faced the dark gigantic figure of my foe, — for his lumi- 
nous eyes were now upon me, and his penetrating voice ad- 
dressed me only. 

''Man, deceive not thyself!" he said. ''Think not the 
terrors of this night are the delusion of a dream or the snare 
of a vision ! Thou art awake, not sleeping, — thou art flesh as 
well as spirit ! This place is neither hell nor heaven nor any 
s] ace between, — it is a corner of thine own world on which 
thou livest. Wherefore know from henceforth that the Super- 
natural Universe in and around the Natural is no lie, but the 
chief Reality, inasmuch as God surroundeth all ! Fate strikes 
thine hour, — and in this hour 'tis given thee to choose thy 
Master. Now, by the will of God, thou seest me as Angel, — 
but take heed thou forget not that among men I am as Man ! 
In human form I move with all humanity through endless ages, 
— to kings and counsellors, to priests and scientists, to think- 
ers and teachers, to old and young I come in the shape their 
pride or vice demands, and am as one with all ! Self finds 
in me another Ego ; — but from the pure in heart, the high in 
faith, the perfect in intention, I do retreat with joy, offering 
naught save reverence, demanding naught save prayer ! So am 
I, — so must I ever be, — till Man of his own will releases and 
redeems me. Mistake me not, but know me ! — and choose 
thy Future for truth's sake and not for fear ! Choose and 
change not in any time hereafter, — this hour, this moment is 
thy last probation, — choose, I say ! Wilt thou serve Self and 
Me? or God only?" 

The question seemed thundered on my ears, . . . shudder- 
ing, I looked from right to left, and saw a gathering crowd of 
faces, white, wistful, wondering, threatening and imploring, — 
they pressed about me close, with glistening eyes and lips 
that moved dumbly. And as they stared upon me I beheld 
another spectral thing, — the image of Myself! — a poor frail 
creature, pitiful, ignorant, and undiscerning, — limited in both 
capacity and intelligence, yet full of strange egotism and still 


stranger arrogance ; every detail of my life was suddenly 
presented to me as in a magic mirror, and 1 read my own 
clironicle of j)altry mtellectual pride, vulgar ambition and 
vulgarer ostentation, — I realized with shame my miserable 
vices, my puny scorn of God, my effronteries and blasphemies ; 
and in the sudden strong repulsion and repudiation of my own 
worthless existence, being and character, I found both voice 
and speech. 

''God only!" I cried fervently. ''Annihilation at His 
hands rather than life without Him ! God only ! I have 
chosen !" 

My words vibrated passionately on my own ears, . . . and 
. . . even as they were spoken, the air grew misty with a 
snowy opalescent radiance, . . . the sable and crimson wings 
uplifted in such multitudmous array around me, palpitated 
with a thousand changeful hues, . . . and over the face of my 
dark Foe a light celestial fell like the smile of dawn ! Awed 
and afraid I gazed upwards, . . . and there I saw a new and 
yet more wondrous glory, ... a shining Figure outlined 
against the sky in such surpassing beauty and vivid brilliancy 
as made me think the sun itself had risen in vast Angel-shape 
on rainbow pinions ! And from the brightening heaven there 
rang a silver voice, clear as a clarion-call, — 

'^ Arise, Lucifer, Son of the Morning! One soul rejects 
thee; — one hour of joy is granted thee ! Hence, a?id arise !' ' 

Earth, air, and sea blazed suddenly into fiery gold, — blinded 
and stunned, I was seized by compelling hands and held firmly 
down by a force invisible, . , . the yacht was slowly sinking 
under me ! Overwhelmed with unearthly terrors, my lips yet 
murmured — 

"God! God only !" The heavens changed from gold to 
crimson — anon to shining blue, . . . and against this mass of 
wavering colour that seemed to make a jewelled archway of the 
sky, I saw the Form of him whom I had known as man, swiftly 
ascend god-like, — with flaming pinions and upturned glorious 
visage, like a vision of light in darkness ! Around him 


clustered a million winged shapes, — but He, supreme, majes- 
tic, wonderful, towered high above them all, a very king of 
splendour, the glory round his brows resembling meteor-fires 
in an Arctic midnight, — his eyes, twin stars, ablaze with such 
great rapture as seemed half agony ! Breathless and giddy, I 
strained my sight to follow him as he fled ; . . . and heard 
the musical calling of strange sweet voices everywhere, from 
east to west, from north to south. 

" Lucifer ! Beloved and unforgotten ! Lucifer, Son of the 
morning! Arise! . . . arise! ..." 

With all my remaining strength I strove to watch the van- 
ishing upwards of that subhme Luminance that now filled the 
visible universe, — the demon-ship was still sinking steadily, 
. . . invisible hands still held me down, ... I was falling, 
— falling, — into unimaginable depths, . . . when another 
voice, till then unheard, solemn yet sweet, spoke aloud — 

"Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outermost 
darkness of the world ! There let him find My Light ! ' ' 

I heard, — yet felt no fear. "God only !" I said, as I sank 
into the vast profound, — and lo ! while the words yet trembled 
on my lips, I saw the sun ! The sweet earth's sun ! — the 
kindly orb familiar, — the lamp of God's protection, — its 
golden rim came glittering upwards in the east, — higher and 
higher it rose, making a golden background for that mighty 
Figure whose darkly luminous wings now seemed like sable 
storm-clouds stretched wide across the horizon ! Once more 
. . . yet once, . . . the Angel-visage bent its warning looks 
on me, ... I saw the anguished smile, . . . the great eyes 
burning with immortal sorrows ! . . . then I was plunged 
forcibly downwards and thrust into an abysmal grave of frozen 



The blue sea, — the blue sky ! — and God's sunshine over 
all ! To this I woke, after a long period of unconsciousness, 
and found myself afloat on a wide ocean, fast bound to a 
wooden spar. So strongly knotted were my bonds that I 
could not stir either hand or foot, . . . and after one or two 
ineffectual struggles to move I gave up the attempt, and lay 
submissively resigned to my fate, face upturned, and gazing 
at the infinite azure depths above me, while the heaving 
breath of the sea rocked me gently to and fro like an infant 
in its mother's arms. Alone with God and Nature, I, a poor 
human wreck, drifted, — lost, yet found ! Lost on this vast 
sea which soon should serve my body as a sepulchre, . . . 
but found, inasmuch as I was fully conscious of the existence 
and awakening of the Immortal Soul within me, — that divine, 
actual and imperishable essence, which now I recognised as 
being all that is valuable in a man in the sight of his Creator. 
I was to die soon and surely ; — this I thought as the billows 
swayed me in their huge cradle, running in foamy ripples 
across my bound body, and dashing cool spray upon my 
brows, — what could I do now, doomed and helpless as I was, 
to retrieve my wasted past? Nothing! save repent, — and 
could repentance at so late an hour fit the laws of eternal 
justice? Humbly and sorrowfully I considered, . . to me 
had been given a terrific and unprecedented experience of the 
awful Reality of the Spirit-world around us, — and now I was 
cast out on the sea as a thing worthless, I felt that the brief 
time remaining to me of life in this present sphere was indeed 
my 'Mast probation," as that Supernatural Wonder, the de- 
clared Enemy of mankind, whom still in my thoughts I called 
Lucio, had declared. 

"If I dared, — after a life's denial and blasphemy, — turn to 


Christ!" I said, — "would He, — the Divine Brother and 
Friend of man, — reject me?" 

I whispered the question to the sky and sea, . . . solemn 
silence seemed to invest the atmosphere, and marvellous 
calm. No other answer came than this, ... a deep and 
charmed peace, that insensibly stole over my fretting con- 
science, my remorseful soul, my aching heart, my tired mind. 
I remembered certain words heard long ago and lightly for- 
gotten. ^^ Him who comcth unto Ale will I in no wise cast 
oiit.^^ Looking up to the clear heavens and radiant sun, I 
smiled ; and with a complete abandonment of myself and my 
fears to the Divine Will, I murmured the words that in my 
stress of my-^tic agony had so far saved me — 

'' God only ! Whatsoever He shall choose for me in life, 
in death, and after deaih, is best." 

And closing my eyes, I resigned my life to the mercy of 
the soft waves, and with the sunbeams warm upon my face, 
I slept. 

I woke again with an icy shudder and cry, — rough cheery 
voices sounded in my ears, — strong hands were at work busily 
unfastening the cords with which I was bound, ... I was on 
the deck of a large steamer, surrounded by a group of men, — 
and all the glory of the sunset fired the seas. Questions were 
poured upon me, ... I could not answer them, for my 
tongue was parched and blistered, . . . lifted upright upon 
my feet by sturdy arms, I could not stand for sheer exhaus- 
tion. Dimly, and in feeble dread I stared around me, was 

this great vessel with smoking funnels and grinding engines 
another devil's craft set sailing round the world ! Too weak 
to find a voice I made dumb signs of terrified inquiry, . . . 
a broad-shouldered, bluff-looking man came forward, whose 
keen eyes rested on me with kindly compassion. 



'' This is an English vessel," he said. *'\Ve are bound for 
Southamjjton. Our helmsman saw you floating ahead, — we 
stopped and sent a boat for rescue. Where were you wrecked ? 
Any more of the crew afloat?" 

I gazed at him but could not speak. The strangest thoughts 
crowded into my brain, moving me to wild tears and laughter. 
England ! The word struck clashing music on my mind, and 
set all my pulses trembling. England ! The little spot upon 
the little world, most loved and honoured of all men, save 
those who envy its worth ! I made some gesture, whether of 

joy or mad amazement I know not, had I been able to 

speak I could have related nothing that those men around 
me could have comprehended or believed, . . . then I sank 
back again in a dead swoon. 

They were very good to me, all those English sailors. The 
captain gave me his own cabin, — the ship's doctor attended 
me with a zeal that was only exceeded by his curiosity to 
know where I came from, and the nature of the disaster that 
had befallen me. But I remained dumb, and lay inert and 
feeble in my berth, grateful for the care bestowed upon me, 
as well as for the temporary exhaustion that deprived me of 
speech. For I had enough to do with my own thoughts, 
— thoughts far too solemn and weighty for utterance. I was 
saved, — I was given another chance of life in the world, — and 
I knew why. My one absorbing anxiety now was to retrieve 
my wasted time, and to do active good where hitherto I had 
done nothing. 

The day came at last, when I was sufficiently recovered to 
be able to sit on deck and watch with eager eyes the approach- 
ing coast-line of England. I seemed to have lived a century 
since I left it, — aye, almost an eternity, — for time is what the 
Soul makes it, and no more. I was an object of interest and 
attention among all the passengers on board, for as yet I had 
not broken silence. The weather was calm and bright, . . . 
the suii shone gloriously, — and far off the pearly rim of 
Shakespeare's '■ happy isle' glistened jewel-like upon the edge 


of the sea. The captain came and looked at me, — nodded 
encouragingly, — and after a moment's hesitation, said — 

"Glad to see you out on deck! Almost yourself again, 

I silently assented with a faint smile. 

''Perhaps," he continued, ** as we're so near home, you'll 
let me know your name? It's not often we pick up a man 
alive and drifting in mid-Atlantic." 

In mid-Atlantic ! What force had flung me there I dared 
not think, . . . nor whether it was hellish or divine. 

''My name?" I murmured, surprised into speech, — how 
odd it was I had never thought of myself lately as having a 
name or any other thing belonging to me ! " Why certainly! 
Geoffrey Tempest is my name." 

The captain's eyes opened widely. 

" Geoffrey Tempest ! Dear me ! . . . The Mr Tempest ? — 
the great millionaire that was?'" 

It was now my turn to stare. 

" That ivas .?' ' I repeated. " What do you mean ?' ' 

" Have you not heard ?" he asked excitedly. 

" Heird? I have heard nothing since I left England some 
months ago — with a friend, on board his yacht . . . we went 
on a long voyage and ... a strange one ! . . . we were 
wrecked, . . . you know the rest, and how I owe my life to 
your rescue. But of news I am ignorant ..." 

"Good heavens!" he interrupted quickly. "Bad news 
travels fast, as a rule, they say, — but you have missed it . . . 
and I confess I don't like to be the bearer of it . . ." 

He broke off, and his genial face looked troubled. I 
smiled, — yet wondered. 

" Pray speak out!" I said. "I don't think you can tell 
me anything that will deeply affect me, — now. I know the 
best and worst of most things in the world, I assure you !" 

He eyed me dubiously ; — then, going into his smoking- 
cabin, he brought me out an American newspaper seven days 
old. He handed it to me, pointing to its leading columns 


without a word. There I saw in large type — *' A Milh'onaire 
Ruined ! Enormous Frauds ! Monster Forgeries ! Gigantic 
Swind e ! On the track of Bentham and Ellis !" 

My brain swam for a minute, — then I read on steadily, and 
soon grasped the situation. The respectable pair of lawyers 
whom I had implicitly relied on for the management of all my 
business affairs in my absence, had succumbed to the tempta- 
tion of having so much cash in charge for investment, — and 
had become a pair of practised swindlers. Dealing with the 
same bank as myself, they had forged my name so cleverly 
that the genuineness of the signature had never been even 
suspected, — and, after drawing enormous sums in this way, 
and investing in various ' bubble' companies with which they 
personally were concerned, they had finally absconded, leav- 
ing me well-nigh as poor as I was when I first heard of my 
inherited fortune. I put aside the paper, and looked up at the 
good captain who stood watching me with sympathetic anxiety. 

''Thank you!" I said. "These thieves were my trusted 
lawyers, — and I can cheerfully say that I am much more sorry 
for them than I am for myself. A thief is always a thief, — a 
poor man, if he be honest, is at any rate the thief's superior. 
The money they have stolen will bring them misery rather 
than pleasure, — of that I am convinced. If this account be 
correct, they have already lost large sums in bogus compa- 
nies, — and the man Bentham, whom I thought the very acme 
of shrewd caution, has sunk an enormous amount of capital 
in a worn-out gold-mine. Their forgeries must have been 
admirably done ! — a sad waste of time and cleverness. It 
appears too that the investments I have myself made are not 
worth much ; — well, well ! — it does not matter much, — I must 
begin the world again, that's all." He looked amazed. 

" I don't think you quite realize your own misfortune, Mr 
Tempest," he said. *' You take it too quietly by half. You'll 
think worse of it presently." 

'' I hope not !" I responded, with a smile. " It never does 
to think the worst of anything. I assure you I realize it 


perfectly. I am in the world's sight a ruined man, — I quite 
understand !" 

He shrugged his shoulders with quite a desperate air, and 
left me. I am convinced he thought me mad, — but I knew I 
had never been so sane. I did indeed entirely comprehend 
my ' misfortune, ' or rather the great chance bestowed on me 
of winning something far higher than all the coffers of Mam- 
mon ; I read in my loss of world's cash the working of such 
a merciful providence and pity as gave me a grander hope 
than any I had ever known. Clear before me rose the vision 
of that most divine and beautiful necessity of happiness, — 
Work ! — the grand and too often misprized Angel of Labour, 
which moulds the mind of man, steadies his hands, controls 
his brain, purifies his passions, and strengthens his whole 
mental and physical being. A rush of energy and health 
filled my veins, — and I thanked God devoutly for the golden 
opportunities held out afresh for me to accept and use. 
Gratitude there should be in every human soul for every gift 
of heaven, — but nothing merits more thankfulness and praise 
to the Creator than the call to work, and the ability to respond 
to it. 

England at last ! — I bade farewell to the good ship that had 
rescued me and all on board her, most of whom now knew my 
name and looked upon me with pity as well as curiosity. The 
story of my being wrecked on a friend's yacht was readily 
accepted, — and the subject of that adventure was avoided, as 
the general impression was that my friend, whoever he was, 
had been drowned with his crew, and that I was the one 
survivor. I did not offer any further explanation, and was 
content to so let the matter rest, though I was careful to send 
both the captain and the ship's doctor a handsome recompense 
for their united attention and kindness. I have reason to 
believe, from the letters they wrote me, that they were more 
than satisfied with the sums received, and that I really did 
some actual good with those few last fragments of my vanished 


On reaching London, I interviewed the police concerning 
the thieves and forgers, Bentham and Ellis, and stopped all 
proceedings against them. 

" Call me mad if you like," I said to the utterly confounded 
chief of the detective force — " I do not mind ! But let these 
rascals keep the trash they have stolen. It will be a curse to 
them, as it has been to me. It is devil's money ! Half of it 
was settled on my late wife, — at her death, it reverted by the 
same deed of settlement, to any living members of her family, 
and now belongs to Lord Elton. I have lived to make a 
noble Earl rich, who was once bankrupt, and I doubt if he 
would lend me a ten-pound-note for the asking ! However, I 
shall not ask him. The rest has gone into the universal waste 
of corruption and sham — let it stay there ! I shall never 
bother myself to get it back. I prefer to be a free man." 

''But the bank, — the principle of the thing!" exclaimed 
the detective with indignation. 

I smiled. 

" Exactly ! The principle of the thing has been perfectly 
carried out. A man who has too much money creates forgers 
and thieves about him, — he cannot expect to meet with honesty. 
Let the bank prosecute if it likes, — I shall not. I am free ! — 
free to work for my living. What I earn I shall enjoy, — what 
I inherited I have learnt to loathe !" 

With that I left him, puzzled and irate, — and in a day or 
two the papers were full of strange stories concerning me, and 
numerous lies as well. I was called 'mad,' 'unprincipled,' 
' thwarting the ends of justice,' — and sundry other names, 
while scurrilous civilities known only to the penny paragraphist 
were heaped upon me by the score. To complete my entire 
satisfaction, a man employed on the staff of one of the leading 
journals, dug out my book from Mudie's underground cellar, 
and ' slashed' it with a bitterness and venom only excelled by 
my own violence when anonymously libelling the work of 
Mavis Clare ! And the result was remarkable, — for in a sud- 
den wind of caprice, the public made a rush for my neglected 


literary offspring, — they took it up, handled it tenderly, read 
it lingeringly, found something in it that pleased them, and 
finally bought it by thousands ! . . . whereat the astute Mor- 
geson, as virtuous publisher, wrote to me in wonder and con- 
gratulation, enclosing a check for a hundred pounds on ' roy- 
alties,' and promising more in due course, should the 'run' 
continue. Ah, the sweetness of that earned hundred pounds ! 
I felt a king of independence ! — realms of ambition and at- 
tainment opened out before me, — life smiled upon me as it 
had never smiled before. Talk of poverty ! I was rich ! — 
rich with a hundred pounds made out of my own brain-labour, 
— and I envied no millionaire that ever flaunted his gold be- 
neath the sun ! I thought of Mavis Clare, . . . but dared not 
dwell too long upon her gentle image. In time perhaps, . . . 
when I had settled down to fresh work, . . . w^hen I had 
formed my life as I meant to form it, in the habits of faith, 
firmness and unselfishness, I would write to her and tell her 
all, — all, even to that dread insight into worlds unseen beyond 
the boundaries of an unknown region of everlasting frozen 
snow ! But now, — now I resolved to stand alone, — fighting 
my battle as a man should fight, seeking for neither help nor 
sympathy, and trusting not in Self, but God only. Moreover 
I could not induce myself yet to look again upon Willows- 
mere. The place was terror-haunted for me; and though 
Lord Elton with a curious condescension (seeing that it was 
to me he owed the free gift of his former property), invited 
me to stay there, and professed a certain lame regret for the 
* heavy financial losses' I had sustained, I saw in the tone of 
his epistle that he looked upon me somewhat in the light of a 
madman after my refusal to take up the matter of my abscond- 
ing solicitors, and that he would rather I stayed away. And 
I did stay away ; — and even when his marriage with Diana 
Chesney took place with great pomp and splendour, I refused 
his invitation to be present. In the published list of guests, 
however, which appeared in the principal papers, I was scarcely 
surprised to read the name of ' Prince Lucio Rimanez.' 


I now took a humble room and set to work on a new 
literary enterprise, avoiding e\eryone I had hitherto known, 
for being now a poor man, I was aware that 'swagger society' 
wished to blot me from its visiting-list. I lived with my 
thoughts, — musing on many things, training myself to humility, 
obedience, and faith with fortitude, — and day by day I did 
battle with the monster, Egotism, that presented itself in a 
thousand disguises at every turn in my own life as well as in 
the lives of others. I had to re-form my character, — to mould 
the obstinate nature that rebelled, and make its obstinacy 
serve for the attainment of higher objects than world's renown, 
— the task was difficult, — but I gained ground a little with 
every fresh effort. 

I had lived for some months like this happily enough, when 
all the reading world was suddenly electrified by another book 
of Mavis Clare's. My lately favoured first work was again 
forgotten and thrust aside, — hers, slated and screamed at as 
usual by the criticasters, was borne along to fame by a great 
wave of honest public praise and enthusiasm. And I ? I 
rejoiced — no longer grudging or envious of her sweet fame, 
I stood apart in spirit as it were, while the bright car of her 
triumph went by, decked, not only with laurels, but with roses, 
— the blossoms of a people's love and honour. With all my 
soul I reverenced her genius, — with all my heart I honoured 
her pure womanliness. And in the very midst of her brilliant 
success, when all the world was talking of her, she wrote to 
me, a simple little letter, as gracious as her own fair name. 

Dear Mr Tempest, 

I heard by chance the other day that 
you had returned to England. I therefore send this note to 
the care of your publisher to express my sincere delight in the 
success your clever book has now attained after its interval of 
probation. I fancy the public appreciation of your work must 
go far to console you for the great losses you have had both 
in life and fortune of which I will not here speak. When you 


feel that you can bear to look again upon scenes which I know 
will be sure to rouse in your mind many sad and poignant 
memories, will you come and see me ? 

Your friend 

Mavis Clare. 

A mist came before my eyes, — I almost felt her gentle 
presence in my room, — I saw the tender look, the radiant 
smile, — the innocent yet earnest joy of life, and love of purity 
that emanated from the fair personality of the sweetest woman 
I had ever known. She called herself my friend ! ... it 
was a privilege of which I felt myself unworthy. I folded the 
letter and put it near my heart to serve me as a talisman, . . . 
she, of all bright creatures in the world surely knew the secret 
of happiness ! Some -day, . . . yes, ... I would go and 
see her, . . . my Mavis that sang in her garden of lilies, — 
some day when I had force and manliness enough to tell her 
all, — save my love for her ! For that, I felt, must never be 
spoken, — Self must resist Self, and clamour no more at the 
gate of a forfeited Paradise. Some day I would see her, . . . 
but not for a long time, . . . not till I had, in part at least, 
worked out my secret expiation. As I sat musing thus, a 
strange memory came into my brain, ... I thought I heard 
a voice resembling my own which said — 

^^ Lift, oh lift the shrouding veil ^ spirit of the City Beautiful I 
For I feel I shall read in your eyes the secret of happiness .^" 

A cold shudder ran through me, — I sprang up erect, in a 
kind of horror. Leaning at my open window I looked down 
into the busy street below, — and my thoughts reverted to the 
strange things I had seen in the East, — the face of the dead 
Egyptian dancer, uncovered to the light again after two thou- 
sand years, — the face of Sibyl ! . . . then I remembered the 
vision of the ' City Beautiful,' in which one face had re- 
mained veiled, — the face I most desired to see ! and I 

trembled more and more as my mind, despite my will, began 
to weave together links of the past and present, till they 



seemed growing into one and the same. Was I again to be 

the prey of evil forces? did some new danger threaten 

me? — had I, by some unconscious wicked wish invited new 
temptation to assail me ? Overcome by my sensations, I left 
my work and went out into the fresh air, . . .it was late at 
night, — and the moon was shining. I felt for the letter of 
Mavis, — it pressed against my heart, a shield against all vile- 
ness. The room I occupied was in a house not far from 
Westminster Abbey, and I instinctively bent my steps towards 
that grey old shrine of kings and poets dead. The square 
around it was almost deserted, 1 slackened my pace, stroll- 
ing meditatively along the narrow paved way that forms a 
short cut across into Old Palace Yard, . . . when suddenly 
a dark Shadow crossed my path, and looking up, T came face 
to face with Lucio ! The same as ever, — the perfect im- 
personation of perfect manhood ! . . . his countenance, pale, 

proud, sorrowful yet scornful, flashed upon me like a star ! 

he looked full at me, and a questioning smile rested on his 
lips. My heart almost stopped beating, ... I drew a quick 
sharp breath, . . . again I felt for the letter of Mavis, and 
then, . . . meeting his gaze fixedly and straightly in my turn, 
I moved slowly on in silence. He understood, — his eyes 
flashed with the jewel-like strange brilliancy I knew so well, 
and so well remembered ! — and drawing back, he stood aside 
and — let me pass ! I continued my walk steadily, though 
dazed and like one in a dream, — till reaching the shadowed 
side of the street opposite the Houses of Parliament, I stopped 
for a moment to recover my startled senses. There again I 

saw him ! the superb Man's form, — the Angel's face, — the 

haunting, splendid sorrowful eyes ! he came with his usual 

ease and grace of step into the full moonlight and paused, — 
apparently waiting for some one. For me? — ah no ! — I kept 
the name of God upon my lips, — I gathered all the strength 
of faith within my soul, — and though I was wholesomely 
afraid of Myself, I feared no other foe ! I lingered therefore 
— watching ; — and presently I saw a few members of Parliament 


walking singly and in groups towards ihe House, — one or two 
greeted the tall dark Figure as a friend and familiar, and 
others knew him not. Still he waited on, . . . and so did I. 
At last, just as ' Big Ben' chimed the quarter to eleven, one 
man whom I instantly recognised as a well-known Cabinet 
minister came walking briskly towards the House, . . . then, 
and then only, He whom I had known as Lucio, advanced 
smiling. Greeting the minister cordially, in that musical rich 
voice I knew of old, he took his arm, — and they both walked 
on, talking earnestly. I watched them till their figures re- 
ceded in the moonlight, . . . the one tall, kingly and com- 
manding, ... the other burly and broad and self-assertive in 
demeanour ; — I saw them ascend the steps, and finally disap- 
pear within the House of England's Imperial Government, — 
Devil and Man, — together ! 

The End. 



Anne Hollingsworth Wharton. 

Through Colonial Doorways. 

With a number of colonial illustrations from drawings specially made 
for the work, i2mo. Cloth, $1.25. 

" It is a pleasant retrospect of fashionable New York and Philadelphia 
society during and immediately following the Revolution ; for there was a Four 
Hundred even in those days, and some of them were Whigs and some were 
Tories, but all enjoyed feasting and dancing, of which there seemed to be no 
limit. And this little book tells us about the belles of the Philadelphia meschi- 
anza, who they were, how they dressed, and how they flirted with Major Andre 
and other officers in Sir William Howe's wicked employ." — Philadelphia Record. 


Colonial Days and Dames. 

With numerous illustrations. i2mo. Cloth, $1.25. 

" In less skilful hands than those of Anne Hollingsworth Wharton's, these 
scraps of reminiscences from diaries and letters would prove but dry bones. But 
she has made them so charming that it is as if she had taken dried roses from an 
old album and freshened them into bloom and perfume. Each slight paragraph 
from a letter is framed in historical sketches of local affairs or with some account 
of the people who knew the letter writers, or were at least of their date, and there 
are pretty suggestions as to how and why such letters were written, with hints of 
love affairs, which lend a rose-colored veil to what were probably every-day 
matters in colonial families." — Pittsburg Bulletin. 

For sale by all Booksellers, or will be sent, post-paid, upon receipt of price, 





l2mo. Cloth, illustrated, $1.25 per volume. 

The two above volumes, in box, $2.50. 

With great descriptive power, considerable and often quiet fun, 
there is a delicacy and tenderness, a knowledge and strength of 
purpose, combined with so much fertility of resource and originality 
that the interest never flags, and the sensation on putting down any 
of her works is that of having dwelt in a thoroughly healthy atmos- 



i2mo. Cloth, $1.25 per volume. 

Five volumes, uniform binding, in neat box, $6.25. 

" Miss Rosa Nouchette Carey has achieved an enviable reputation 
as a writer of tales of a restful and quiet kind. They tell pleasant 
stories of agreeable people, are never sensational, and have a genuine 
moral purpose and helpful tone, without being aggressively didactic 
or distinctly religious in character." — N. Y. Christian Union. 

For sale by all Booksellers, or will be sent, post-paid, upon receipt of price, 


Authors and Their Works, 


Translations from the German, 

$i.oo per volume. 

Countess Erika's Apprenticeship. By Ossip Scliubin. 
**0 Thou, My Austria I" By Ossip Scliubin. 
Erlach Court. By Ossip Scliubin. 
The Alpine Fay. By E. Werner. 

^ The Owl's Nest. By E. Marlitt. 

^ Picked Up in the Streets. By H. Scliobert. 

^ Saint Michael. By E- Werner. 

Violetta. By Ursula Zoge von Manieufel. 
The Lady with the Rubies. By E. Marlitt. 
Vain Forebodings. By E. Oswald. 
A Penniless Girl. By W. Heimburg. 
Quicksands. By Adolph Streckfuss. 

Countess Qisela. By E. Marlitt. 

^ At the Councillor's. By E. Marlitt. 

^ The Second Wife. By E. Marlitt. 

The Old Mam'selle's Secret. By E. Marlitt. 
Gold Elsie. By E. Marlitt. 
The Little Moorland Princess. By E. Marlitt. 
Banned and Blessed. By E. Werner. 
A Noble Name. By Claire von Gliiiuer. 

Authors and Their Works. 



From Hand to Hand. By Golo Raimund. 
Severa. By E. Hartner. 
A New Race. By Golo Raimund. 
The Eichhofs. By Moritz von Reichenbach. 
Castle Hohenwald. By Adolph Streckfuss. 
Margarethe. By E. Juucker. 

^ Too Rich. By Adolph Streckfuss. 

^ A Family Feud. By Ludwig Harder. 
The Green Gate. By Ernst Wichert. 
Only a Girl. By Wilhelmine von Hillern. 
Why Did He Not Die. By Ad. von Volckhauser. 
Hulda. By Fanny Lewald. 
The Bailiff's Maid. By E. Marlitt. 
In the Schillingscourt. By E. Marlitt. 

"Mrs. A. It. Wister, through her many translations of novels 
from the German, has established a reputation of the highest order 
for literary judgment, and for a long time her name upon the title- 
page of such a translation has been a suflScient guarantee to the 
lovers of fiction of a pure and elevating character, that the novel 
would be a cherished home favorite. This faith in Mrs. Wister is 
fully justified by the fact that among her more than thirty transla- 
tions that have been published by Lippincott's there has not been 
a single disappointment. And to the exquisite judgment of selec- 
tion is to be added the rare excellence of her translations, which 
has commanded the admiration of literary and linguistic scholars." 
— Boston Home Journal. 

J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia 

Authors and Their Works, 


"Now and then, to prove to men^perhaps also to prove to 
themselves — what they can do if they dare and will, one of these 
gifted women detaches herself from her sisters, enters the arena 
with men, to fight for the highest prizes, and as the brave Gotz 
says of Brother Martin, 'shames many a knight.^ To this race 
of conquerors belongs to-day one of the first living writers of 
novels and romances, fulien Gordon.'''' 



A Diplomat's Diary. 
A Successful Man. 
Vampires, and Mademoiselle Reseda, 

Two stories in one book. 
i2mo. Cloth, $i.oo per vol. 

"The cleverness and lightness of touch which characterized 
'A Diplomat's Diary' are not wanting in the later work of the 
American lady who writes imder the pseudonyme of Julien Gordon. 
In her former story the dialogue is pointed and alert, the characters 
are clear-cut and distinct, and the descriptions picturesque. As 
for the main idea of 'A Successful Man,' the intersection of two 
wholly different strata of American life, — one fast and fashionable, 
the other domestic and decorous, — it is worked out with much skill 
and alertness of treatment to its inevitably tragic issue." — N. Y. 

J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia. 

Authors and Their Works, 


i2mo. Cloth, $1.25. 

"Victor Emanuel, the members of the Comedie Fran^aise. Er- 
nest Renan, Paul de Kock, MacMahon, Thiers, Grevy and his wife, 
Ferry, Freycinet, Boulang-er and Mme. de Bonnemain, SkobelefF, 
Clemenceau, Gambetta, Brisson, Goblet, Floquet, Cassagnac, surely 
these are names to conjure with, and it is of these notables that 
Mr. Vandam tells us at length in his spicy, gossipy style. Verily 
his note-book is a mine of wealth, and all will hope that he will 
open it once more and many times." — Cincinnati Tribxme. 

"The author of that much-talked-of book, 'An Englishman in 
Paris,' has written another, which will create as great an interest 
as the first. The book is a fund of enjoyment from beginning to 
end, and any one who takes it up will find himself interested." — 
Boston Times. 

"This new volume by the author of 'An Englishman in Paris.' 
is one of the most readable of the books of the year. It abounds 
in the brightest of sketches, in the most interesting of gossip, in 
the most vivid of descriptions of the altogether unique Paris under 
the third republic." — Boston Daily Advertiser. 

"The book, which comes to us from the Lippincotts, is fully as 
entertaining as its predecessor, and is quite as rich in illustrative 
anecdotes of eminent men and important events. We are again 
brought into intimate relations with Louis Napoleon ; we are taken 
behind the scenes of the Comedie Francaise ; we make the ac- 
quaintance of Renan, Paul de Kock, Thiers, Jules Grevy, — in a 
word, the most interesting phases of recent and contemporary 
French life are exposed to us by one who has known the boulevards 
for almost forty years, and who has had, besides, the use of certain 
valuable reminiscences recorded by two maternal granduncles, who 
lived on terms of intimacy with Napoleon III." — Philadelphia 

J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 

Authors and Their Works. 

Captain Charles King, u.s.a, 

Under Fire. Ilhistrated. Cloth, $1.25. 

The Colonel's Daughter. Illustrated. Cloth, $1.25. 

Marian's Faith. Illustrated. Cloth, $1.25. 

Captain Blake. Illustrated. Cloth, $1.25. 

Foes in Ambush. Cloth, $1.25. 

Kitty's Conquest. Cloth, $1.00. 

Starlight Ranch, and Other Stories. Cloth, $1.00. 

Laramie; or. The Queen of Bedlam. Cloth, $1.00. 

The Deserter, and From the Ranks. Cloth, $1.00. 

Two Soldiers, and Dunraven Ranch. Cloth, $1.00. 

A Soldier's Secret, and An Army Portia. Cloth, $1.00, 

Waring' s Peril. Cloth, $1.00. 

Trials of a Staff Officer. Cloth, $1.00. 

Captain Close, and Sergeant Croesus. Cloth, $1.00. 


The Colonel's Christmas Dinner, and Other Stories. 

Cloth, $1.25. 

An Initial Experience, and Other Stories. Cloth, $1.00 ; 
Paper, jo cents. 

Captain Dreams, and Other Stories. Cloth, $1.00 ; Paper ^ 
JO cents. 

From the lowest soldier to the highest officer, from the servant to the 
master, there is not a character in any of Captain King's novels that is 
not wholly in keeping with expressed' sentiments. There is not a move- 
ment made on the field, not a break from the ranks, not an offence 
against the military code of discipline, and hardly a heart-beat that 
escapes his watchfulness." — Boston Herald. 



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